A banner year, literally: Utah resort reaches 700 inches of snow

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SALT LAKE CITY — Vicki Varela was thrilled with what she saw when her flight back to Salt Lake City flew over the snow-covered Cottonwood canyons this weekend.

"The majesty was breathtaking," said Varela, the managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, in a statement Monday. "Skiers and drought watchers alike will celebrate this."

And now the 2022-23 snow season is literally a banner year.

Brighton Resort surpassed 700 inches of snowfall this season between Sunday night and Monday morning, with the storm that arrived this week. That's more than 58 feet of snowfall since Oct. 1. It's the earliest in the season Utah's resorts have reached the rare 700 club since snowfall tracking at resorts began in 1943, according to Ski Utah, an organization that promotes Utah's 15 resorts.

In honor of the moment, the organization and Salt Lake County tourism officials announced Monday that they will add a banner at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Salt Lake City that celebrates this year's remarkable snow season. The banner is expected to be unfurled this week.

"Ski Utah is thrilled to witness this historic season. Skiers and snowboarders from around the world have been able to enjoy copious quantities of the greatest snow on Earth," said Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah's president and CEO, in a statement. "We knew we had to celebrate this feat in a big way in the middle of Salt Lake City."

Brighton and a few other resorts are also closing in on the all-time record for any Utah resort, which is 748 inches, set at Alta Ski Area during the 1981-82 season. Rafferty points out that the average season in Utah is about 500 inches.

Monday's announcement is the latest update in what has been a strong snow season for Utah. It began earlier than usual this year because of large storms in late October that carried into November. Aside from a few quiet weeks scattered here and there, the snow hasn't really stopped in the mountains, either.

The persistent snow has helped resorts across the state maintain strong snow bases. For instance, Brighton had a base of 155 inches on Monday, according to Ski Utah. The organization adds that Alta Ski Area currently leads all Utah resorts with a 179-inch base.

Many Utah resorts are using these bases to extend their seasons. Officials at Snowbasin Resort in Weber County, for example, announced last week that they will move its closing date to April 23, marking the resort's longest season in 80 years.

According to Ski Utah, many resorts are currently planning to close for the season in April but that could change if the snow lingers around. Solitude Resort has already moved its closing date back to May 21, conditions permitting. Snowbird Resort announced it will be open daily through May 14 but it will also "continually assess operations" past Memorial Day, which is why its last day remains to be determined, the organization added.

The ongoing storms also continue to boost Utah's snowpack, which broke a record last week for the highest it has ever been for this point in the snow collection season. The average snow water equivalent, or water within the snow, among over 100 mountain sites is now up to 24.2 inches, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service data updated Monday afternoon.

Since 1980, Utah's all-time statewide snowpack level is 26 inches set in 1983. The snowpack and snowmelt runoff process accounts for about 95% of the state's water supply.

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Utah travel and tourismUtah weatherOutdoorsUtahSalt Lake County
Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.


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