Inversion Hurting Snowmaking Efforts At Utah Resort

Dec 9, 2020, 8:32 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

RICHMOND, Utah – Aside from a lack of natural snow, the current inversion is making it hard for some ski resorts to make snow. Cherry Peak Resort is dealing with changing temperatures that are upside down.

It means while workers can run snow machines at the bottom of the mountain, temperatures are too warm just a few hundred feet higher.

“Sometimes up top, we can’t actually fire the guns, based on that inversion,” Dustin Hansen, operations manager at Cherry Peak. “So we need mother nature to come in, give us a little bit of washout, get this inversion out of here, and it looks like we’ve got a storm pattern coming, so we’re excited.”

Crews have to keep a close watch on temperatures through the night, and chances are that may not be enough to get ready for opening day.

Cherry Peak Operations Manager Dustin Hansen checks temperatures higher on the mountain. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV) Temperatures at the base of Cherry Peak can be colder than the higher regions. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“We had some early snowpack that came in and everybody was getting excited,” said Hansen. “Gave us a great base, and then we had a long stretch of some extra-warm temperatures that took a lot of our snow pack down, and (we) kind of had to start all over.”

That excitement was a few weeks ago, and now everything has changed. It’s the kind of thing that Hansen has grown used to at Cherry Peak.

He’s keeping a close watch on weather stations up and down the mountain.

“Down here at the base area has typically been about four to five degrees colder than up top, and that’s just based on inversion,” Hansen said.

With warmer temperatures during the day lately, he said overnight crews are having to closely watch the snow machines and the conditions around them.

“Night in and night out, whether they’re staying in the lodge all night, watching guns, monitoring guns, monitoring the weather — it could change the wind direction. The last thing we want is a gun to be icing up,” he explained.

At the same time, he’s planning for what he believes will be the busiest season yet.

“Due to the pandemic, because a lot of people are experiencing the outdoors,” Hansen said.

That means they’re opening up extra space in the lodge and making changes to the lift lines, to keep groups apart. With a little luck later this week, he’s hopeful that opening day could come sooner rather than later.

“It’s not going to take a tone of snow to get us open,” Hansen said. “And, so we just need the one-two big punch of a snowstorm, and it looks like it’s coming in the next five or six days.”

Manmade snow is roughly 70% of the operation up here. That’s why they’re willing to face the challenges that come with the inversion.

This coming season will be their sixth at Cherry Peak.

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Inversion Hurting Snowmaking Efforts At Utah Resort