Utah ski resorts bracing for a dry run
If you know a good snow dance, this may be the time to let loose.
Some ski resorts in Utah, scheduled to kick off this weekend, are pushing back opening dates. Mother Nature - who cranked up the cold, wet weather machine in October - apparently has dialed back on winter, at least for now.
Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon, however, will open Friday as announced. Three runs - Moonbeam, Apex and Links - have enough artificial snow to ski on, said spokesman Dave DeSeelhorst. But most of the mountain awaits some good, old-fashioned Utah dumps of the white stuff.
"A dry spell like we're having right now is not unprecedented. It happens." DeSeelhorst said. "We just hope it translates into an early and wet winter."
The Canyons, near Park City, is holding fast to its Saturday start date, said Libby Dowd. But resort officials will make the final decision in the coming days.
The best shot for a storm with significant precipitation is Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
But that won't help at Little Cottonwood Canyon resort Alta, which had scheduled a Thursday opener. Officials there will watch the skies and wait before they crank up the chairlifts, said Connie Marshall.
Although Alta received 54 inches of snow in October, a lot of it has melted. It got 4 inches Sunday evening.
"We don't need a huge miracle," she said. "But we do need a couple of substantial storms."
Next door, at Snowbird, opening day set for Saturday may be put off, said Laura Schaffer.
"We're just going to watch the weather for a while," she said.
At Park City Mountain Resort, Friday's slated opening most likely will be put on hold, said Paula Fabel.
Temperatures for the past week have been so mild that snowmaking has not been possible, she noted. Predicted low temperatures this week, however, should be low enough to turn on the snow guns at night.
"We won't open unless we have good conditions for our guests," she said. "We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for snow."
Up Big Cottonwood Canyon from Solitude, Randy Doyle at Brighton said his resort is not ready for skiers and snowboarders.
"We'll open as soon as we can make enough snow," he said. "We're just hoping for cold nights."
Snowbasin Resort east of Ogden has scheduled a Thanksgiving Day opener and, for now, they're sticking with it, said Mary Rowland.
"The weather pattern is looking good for colder temperatures. Our snowmaking magicians are right on it."
For the past several weeks, a split jet stream has weakened storms that might otherwise have been snow producers, said Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the National Weather Service.
But a La Niña weather pattern could bring cooler and wetter-than-normal weather to northern Utah this winter, he said. Each storm that breaks through the high-pressure ridge helps set the stage for the next.
"If we can start getting some storm activity through here, it bodes well for us."
Coming this week
Check out Utah resorts' schedules, ticket prices and what's new for the season: Outdoors on Thursday.