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Snowpack Improves; Resorts May Open Sooner

Snowpack Improves; Resorts May Open Sooner

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Five straight days of wet weather have lifted northern Utah's snowpack from zero percent of normal to 40 percent.

"The snowpack is like a teenager that has just come home late. You don't know whether to run up to it and choke it or hug it," said Randy Julander of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. "I'm more inclined toward the latter, at this point."

However, Utah's water year is barely a month old and it is too early to make any predictions about whether the state will have its sixth straight year of drought.

The water year, which began Oct. 1, got off to a bad start, with no rain in Salt Lake City until Thursday.

The National Weather Service predicted continued wet weather Tuesday, followed by two or three days of mostly cloudy skies and warming and then another, though weaker, storm system by Saturday.

The recent snow was welcomed by ski resorts and some have moved up opening dates.

In Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton Resort has received an estimated 56 inches of snow by late Monday, enough for the resort to open as soon as Thursday or Friday, spokesman Dan Malstrom said.

"Early-season snow like this is critical to our industry," Malstrom said. "It sends a strong message to people who may be planning vacations that they should come to Utah, that we'll have enough snow."

Neighboring Solitude Mountain Resort planned a Nov. 21 opening date, but may move that up if snow continues to fall. The resort by late Monday had received 39 inches of snow, spokesman Jay Burke said.

Other resorts said they had received more than 2 feet of snow, which they are supplementing with snowmaking machines.

In Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort plans to move its opening day up nine days, to Nov. 13, and Alta Ski Area likely will open on Nov. 20.

In the Park City area, The Canyons resort will open Nov. 28, Deer Valley Resort is shooting for Dec. 6 and Park City Mountain Resort may open Nov. 22.

Snowbasin Resort above Ogden is preparing to open Nov. 27.

Monday's storm was blamed for a power outage that affected nearly 1,500 customers in downtown Ogden. They were without power for almost three hours after a power line fell down, likely because of the snowy weather.

Customers in Farmington also had weather-related power problems, and there were scattered outages around Salt Lake Valley.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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