Warm, dry weather in Utah doesn’t bode well for upcoming ski season

Posted at 9:34 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 23:34:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A spell of sunny skies and warm temperatures throughout northern Utah has many feeling like Mother Nature is not on the side of skiers and snowboarders this season.

This unusual weather could delay opening dates for resorts across the valley.

Snowbird has a tentative opening date of November 18. That's only eight days away, and they're still missing two key things: cooler temperatures and snow. It's a problem resorts all across northern Utah are having.

“The weather up to this point hasn't really cooperated with us to begin snow making in earnest,” said Brian Brown, a Communications Manager at Snowbird.

While they may hope for snow covered slopes, that's not the case at present.

“It's painful for us to look at the mountain as is, all the skiers and snowboarders waiting,” Brown said.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist at the National Weather Center in Salt Lake City, spoke about the trend.

“With the absence of storm activity and just this constant sunshine, it’s not looking good for opening day for ski resorts,” he said.

Most resorts had hopes of running their lifts next week, but McInerney says the unusually warm weather pattern plaguing the state for the past five years is causing a lot of headaches.

“When you have an average of six degrees above where you typically see at this time of year, it’s very difficult to make snow, let alone the ground is so warm and so dry that if you do put man-made snow down it will infiltrate right into the soil,” McInerney said.

At this point Ski Utah isn't worried. They say Mother Nature always comes around.

“Ten percent of our snowfall on average dumps before November 15th, so there's plenty of season to make up that 90 percent,” said Paul Marshall, Director of Communications for Ski Utah.

The National Weather Service says there are chances of a big storm hitting Wednesday. For now the biggest concern for resorts is if they will be ready for the busy Thanksgiving week.

“If you look at where we are right now, this is definitely a bummer that we’re as dry and warm as we are, but the pattern could shift,” McInerney said.

Brown agreed that change is possible.

“It is Utah: You never know what's going to happen with the weather, but if you give it ten minutes, you never know what can happen."

The resorts are banking on that big storm next week. They'll adjust opening dates depending on weather, visit Ski Utah for the latest on opening dates.