Talk About Snow

By Ray Grass Feb 28, 2010
Utah has become known for having good snow

Snow we got. Not in record inches, yet, but Utah has snow.

I decided to do some checking after talking with out-of-town visitors on the lifts at Snowbird over the weekend.

More than once the subject of snow came up and in most cases it was followed by “That’s why we came to Utah.’’

Over the years, skiers and snowboarders have come to know that Utah has good snow.  

At last count, Alta has received 325 inches of total snowfall this winter. Last year, on the same date, Alta had 407 inches of total snowfall. The long-term season average is 500.

Before the 2008-09 season ended, Alta would get nearly 300 more inches. If Alta gets even average depths for March and April, it will hit its average.

What stirred my interest was on one particular ride a couple from New York said they brought the family to Snowbird to “get out of mess back East and enjoy good snow.’’ The mess referred to, of course, is very cold and stormy weather, and heavy snow.

A man from California was in Utah for the good snow “and accessibility.’’ He was skiing Alta on Sunday, then heading for the Park City resorts. He like variety.

Another man from Florida said he came to Snowbird every winter, “because I know it has snow.’’

A woman from California asked questions about different resorts, best skiing, best dining, Salt Lake City, then said, “isn’t this snow wonderful?’’

And so it went. Snow was the common thread of conversation. And it was, this day, excellent . . . just enough soft snow over a packed base to hold a perfect edge.

At last count, Snowbird is holding a 91-inch base mid-mountain. Up the canyon a couple of miles Alta is holding a 93-inch base. Over on the Park City side, Deer Valley is at 74 inches, The Canyons at 71 and Park City Mountain Resort 75 inches.

So how does this compare with other resorts around the country?

To the East in Colorado, on the same day, Aspen reported 54 to 81 inches, Beaver 50, Copper Mountain 50 to 62 and Vail 48 inches.

In New York, Hunter Mountain showed bases of 60 to 110 inches and Whiteface Mountain, site of the 1980 Olympics, 30 to 43 inches. 26 of the state’s 34 resorts, however, are showing bases under 30 inches.

In New Hampshire, Attitash shows 24 to 36 and the highest number is Bretton Woods with 20 to 51 inches.

In Vermont, Stowe has a base of 36 to 60, Killington 42 to 54 and Sugarbush 38 to 66.

High marks this year are held in California. Alpine Meadows has a base of 94 to 152, Heavenly 53 to 82 and Mammoth 133 to 175 inches.    

It should be noted here that along with the snow (inches) those visitors I talked with liked Utah’s snow (light and fluffy).

That’s another thing Utah is known for -- having the driest, lightest snow anywhere.

It has been a rather unusual year, however. Utah has had its knee-high powder days, but most of the storms have come frequently and left anywhere from 3 to 6 inches.

Which was the condition over the weekend at Snowbird . . . several inches of new snow over a groomed base.  

It makes for a fun ski day. And that it was.