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Snow could delay Ski Valley opening

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 20:40:51-05
MOUNT LEMMON (KGUN9-TV) - There is certainly no shortage of snow on Mt. Lemmon, but the question now is: when will skiers be able to enjoy it?
 
Ski Valley is set to open Saturday, but Catalina Highway is still closed. 
 
Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Hays escorted 9 On Your Side up the mountain Friday and it was a very slow trip.
 
Visibility was extremely low and snow was all the way down at milepost four. That is the lowest Deputy Hays remembers seeing it in at least ten years.
 
"We had one good lane all the way up. As we came to another car one or the other of us had to slow down or stop for the other cars to get by," said Hays.
 
The county has crews using a dozen vehicles to clear the snow, inluding three large plows, four smaller plows, three graters, and two front-end loaders.
 
The snow was so bad, even a plow got stuck and needed Deputy Hays' SUV and another truck to get it out. 
 
Hays said it was the second plow in two days that has gotten stuck.
 
"The ice underneath, that wet snow, that first base is really what has caused it. They just can't get the traction that they need," said Hays. 
 
That same snow that is wreaking havoc on the road up Mt. Lemmon is perfect for Ski Valley. 
 
"We started off with a good wet snow, which really means a good base because the colder it gets, the harder the base will get. Then it went to, like right now, it's a pretty decent powder snow for this far south," said Hays. 
 
Judging based on the work that still needs to be done, Deputy Hays said he expects Catalina Highway could open Saturday around noon. 
 
You can call the Sheriff's Road Closure hotline at (520)547-7510 for the latest road closures, including Catalina Highway.