Alta, Snowbird reach new snowfall milestones and more may be on the way

This may not be the last snow storm of the season, forecasters say.

Sarah Sherman/Snowbird A wall of snow piles up outside a cafe during an interlodge at Snowbird on April 4, 2023. The resort got 15 inches in 12 hours between Monday and Tuesday to set a season snowfall record of 785 inches.

Alta Ski Area threw in the towel Tuesday morning. It had received 27 inches of snow in 24 hours and 34 inches from the storm that started Monday. Plus, it was still snowing.

In total this season, the Little Cottonwood Canyon ski area has received 851 inches of snow. That’s 103 inches more than its previous record, set in 1981-82, and would create a snowbank taller than three 9th and 9th whales. Where was Alta going to put it all?

That question, combined with a resulting high avalanche danger and interlodge order in Little Cottonwood Canyon, led Alta to closing down its operations Tuesday.

“We are working towards an opening tomorrow,” the resort posted on Twitter. “Thanks for your continued patience during this historically snowy winter.”

Of course all 851 inches haven’t lingered at Alta, but the resort is boasting a 240-inch base. Incredibly, that’s the third deepest in the country according to SnoCountry.com. Both Boreal and Mammoth Mountain in California boast deeper base depths.

The recent storm, which deposited large amounts of wet, heavy snow on an unstable base, raised the avalanche danger in most of Utah’s mountains to high, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. That is just one stop below the rarely used “Extreme” rating at the top of the UAC’s scale.

“Avalanches will run fast and far today,” wrote UAC forecaster Drew Hardesty in his report for Tuesday.

Snowbird was also closed and interlodged Tuesday, meaning no one got to revel in the fresh powder that lifted the resort to its highest season snow total ever. It reported 15 inches of snow had fallen in 12 hours to push it to 785 total inches as of 9:30 a.m. The resort’s previous record was 783 set in 2010-11.

Snowbird joined a long list of Utah resorts that have snapped their snowfall records this season. In addition to Alta, others known to have new high-snow marks include Deer Valley, Brighton, Park City Mountain, Cherry Peak, Snowbasin and Solitude.

The good news/bad news is that more may be added to those totals before the season is done. In addition to increased snowfall Tuesday night, forecasters are eyeing a weather system that could bring one more storm, at least, in mid-April.

“I’d guess our chances for additional snow around mid-month is going to increase, along with cooler temperatures returning,” wrote Evan Thayer, the Utah forecaster for OpenSnow.com. “We will continue to watch.”