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Juneau's first significant snowfall of the season Thursday puts the area on track for a normal winter season compared to last year's drier conditions, National Weather Service Meteorologist Brian Tassia said.
One inch of snow was measured at the Juneau Airport, but as much as 2.2 inches of snow fell near the Mendenhall Loop, Tassia said. Juneau recorded the highest total snowfall of any community in the Southeast Panhandle, Tassia said, because of the proximity to the mountains.
"We're shooting on par," Tassia said. "We're supposed to have snowfall now. Last year we were abnormally warm."
Last year's warm temperatures adversely affected skiing conditions at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Thursday's snowfall makes ski officials more hopeful.
"It looks like Mother Nature is doing well by us this year," Ski & Snowboarding School Director Jeffra Clough said.
Clough said the ski area received 6 to 8 inches of snow at the base and 12 to 18 inches at the top of the mountain.
"It's the perfect kind of snow," Clough said, referring to heavy water content. Snow with more water packs better for skiing.
Eaglecrest needs 12 to 18 inches at the base and 3 to 4 feet at the top to offer public skiing, Clough said.
The ski area has budgeted Dec. 6 for its opening day but that is dependent on the weather, she said.
Meanwhile, city motorists are flocking to get snow tires as a result of the first major snowfall in town.
Esmail Peirovi, owner of Foreign Auto Repair on Mendenhall Mall Road, said about 45 customers flocked to his station Thursday to get snow tires for their vehicles.
Peirovi warns customers to have same-sized, evenly balanced tires on four-wheeled vehicles especially. Those vehicles tend to slip off the road more easily when tires are not affixed properly, he said. He has customers lined up for the next three days, he said.
Those next few days are going to include snow and rain, Tassia said.
Snow will change to rain later this afternoon, turning to heavy rain at night, he said. On Saturday, rain will change to snow during the day, with snow showers at night. A 60 percent chance of snow is expected for Sunday.
Juneau Police reported two vehicle collisions due to weather, Capt. Tom Porter said.
"Overall I think people have been driving responsibly," he said.
Tara Sidor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org