ENVIRONMENT

Utah’s snowpack is starting off below average, but has potential to increase

Dec 27, 2023, 6:13 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2023, 6:08 am

CACHE COUNTY — Cherry Peak Resort couldn’t wait for the next snowstorm to reopen for the upcoming ski season. Instead, the resort relied on snow machines to get something on the ground as soon as temperatures dropped.

“It was kind of what we’d call a shotgun wedding, I guess, you know, but we knew we had to get open,” said Dustin Hansen, operations and marketing manager at Cherry Peak.

Hansen said that they started running snow guns around the clock as soon as it got really cold, and he hadn’t slept much.

“It’s been a lot of long hours around the clock, the holiday season,” he said.

It’s not anything like the record-breaking snowfall Utah saw a year ago. That record year is something that many people hoped would bring in a two- to three-year wet cycle.

Skiers and snowboarders at the Cherry Peak Resort.

Skiers and snowboarders at the Cherry Peak Resort. (KSL TV, Mike Anderson)

But meteorologists, like Samuel Webber with the National Weather Service, say the overall snowpack level is not that bad.

“Especially if you zoom out and look at the rest of the west, Utah is actually doing much better than the rest of the western U.S., which is seeming to struggle with building that snow water equivalent back to normal levels,” Webber said.

He said levels are below average this time of year, but the state could see a turnaround soon since Utah has only had a few storms overall.

“You know, the odds are starting to favor we get into a more active weather pattern through the second half of the winter,” Webber said.

Webber said that could push Utah above average, but there are still nearly 100 days to go in the season, and a lot can happen in that time.

He said Utah’s reservoirs are still 20% above average, adding to the positive outlook for what’s ahead. While snowpack levels are lower in southern Utah, the levels are closer to normal in the Bear River Range area.

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Utah’s snowpack is starting off below average, but has potential to increase