How this snowstorm impacted ski resorts’ base layers

Resorts across the state receive roughly 2 feet of “white cold smoke powder.”

(Cherry Peak) A skier enjoys a coating of powder while skiing at Cherry Peak Resort near Richmond on Feb. 24, 2022.

Cherry Peak Resort was scheduled to be closed Monday through Wednesday this week due to a staffing shortage.

Then Mother Nature did her thing.

The ski hill near Richmond, one of the smallest in the state, saw 10 inches of snow fall between Sunday night and Monday and just as much between Monday and Tuesday. With that much “white cold smoke powder” on the ground, owner Dustin Hansen decided it would be unfair to deny his customers a chance to play in it.

“The Pow Has Spoken …” was the headline of an email sent Monday afternoon announcing that Cherry Peak would be open for skiing that night. It followed that up with the boast that the ski area had received 91 inches so far this winter. But the snow kept coming, and by Tuesday afternoon, Hansen decided to keep Cherry Peak open every day this week.

So if it seems like the Salt Lake Valley and the Wasatch Mountains have gotten a lot of snow recently, they have.

After this week’s storms, which brought more than 2 feet to the Cottonwood Canyons, most every resort in the state has a base layer that is at least 150% of average. Brian Head now has a base of 48 inches, which is 193% of average, according to OpenSnow.com, while the base at Snowbird (78 inches) registered at 191% of average.

And it just keeps coming. Evan Thayer, the Utah forecaster for OpenSnow.com, predicts a few more inches in the coming days.

“While we aren’t going to see any big totals, snowflakes are likely to be in the air from time to time over the next 2-3 days,” he wrote in his blog. “We should finally clear out for good on Friday and stay dry and cool through the weekend.”

More than 2 feet of snow fell in Little Cottonwood Canyon between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, adding 29 and 28 inches, respectively, to already fat bases at Alta and Snowbird. In Big Cottonwood Canyon, OpenSnow.com reported Solitude has a new 25-inch layer and Brighton has 2 fresh feet.

The Ogden resorts didn’t get left out, either. Nordic Valley (24 inches), Snowbasin (25) and Powder Mountain (22) all plastered their social media feeds Tuesday with pictures and videos of skiers and snowboarders coated in powder.

In Park City, Deer Valley Resort reported getting 18 inches in 48 hours and Park City Mountain saw 15 inches.

Hansen has seen how fleeting conditions this good can be. In fact, Thayer wrote that other than a potential small storm next week, no other snowfall is expected until after Christmas. So even though he “still needs staff very badly,” Hansen said he couldn’t in good conscience keep Cherry Peak closed this week. It will be open evenings through Wednesday before switching to its holiday schedule, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., from Dec. 21 to Jan. 2.

“We can’t let any clients or anybody not experience the white cold smoke powder,” Hansen said. “We’re pulling some strings and going to make things work [to have] smiles on everybody’s face across this mountain.”

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