May 19, 2017 – As summer starts to heat up here in the north, a major winter storm swept through Cerro Pachón in the southern hemisphere this past week, dropping nearly 16 inches (40 cm) of snow on the summit. Site Manager Eduardo Serrano was able to access the summit after the storm to provide photos of the snow blanketing the construction site. The snow was preceded by significant rain which washed out sections of the road, causing problems for trucks and staff-transporting buses. The same front also brought heavy rain to La Serena, dropping 8 inches (20 cm) of rain in just a couple of days, which is the area's usual annual rainfall.
The storm’s impact on progress on the mountain is manageable, though costly in time. EIE and Ash Dome (the Auxiliary Telescope dome provider) were both off the mountain for about 4 days, but have since been able to return with 4x4 vehicles to clear snow and restart their work. The impact is more severe for Summit Facility contractor Besalco, who will not have access to transport workers and truckloads of roofing/siding materials until about next Monday—an anticipated total work stoppage of about 11 days. Besalco does have small crews back on site, clearing the snow and drying things out so they can get back to work efficiently when they have adequate safe access.
Yesterday, another storm hit the mountain on the heels of the first one! It remains to be seen how much further complication and delay in site access it will cause. You can watch current weather conditions on the summit webcam.
This photo was taken from the site webcam during one of the storms. Where's LSST?