Dry November puts damper on Utah winter sports industry

Dry November puts damper on Utah winter sports industry

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The month of November ends in a few short hours, and for Utah's winter sports industry it couldn't come sooner. This month has been a dry one.

**Utah Reservoir Storage**
Deer Creek82%
East Canyon75%
Lost Creek74%
Willard Bay88%

Normally, Salt Lake City gets 8 inches of snow in November. This year, there's been no sign of Old Man Winter. For many folks, that means there's no reason, yet, to start planning ahead. "My buddies have been trying to get me to do a season pass, but I'm really hesitant right now just because it is December and there is no snow. It's definitely holding me back," says Salt Lake City resident Stewart Tyrrell.

The lack of snow has winter retailers a bit anxious. At Wasatch Touring last weekend, they sold more bikes than skis -- something unusual for the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Our sales are of course lower when there's not a lot of snow. It's a little bit like farming. We need the weather to cooperate to have the best ski sales," says Dwight Butler, co-founder of Wasatch Touring.

ResortOpening date
Alta Open
Beaver Mountain TBA
Brian Head Open
Brighton Open
The Canyons Open
Deer Valley Dec. 5
Park City Open
Powder Mountain TBA
Snowbasin Open
Snowbird Open
Solitude Open
Sundance Dec. 11
Wolf Creek Open

Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney says it's early enough in the season for things to turn around. "I think we're still too early to get kind of worried about it," McInerney says. "If you look at the past two years, we picked up in a big way. The weather has been either turned on or turned off. Right now, we're off."


Thanks to heavy June rains, reservoir storage is solid -- in the 70 percent-plus range. Still, McInerney says the warming climate is delivering less snowpack, more rain, a later start and earlier end to winter, and more extreme weather. So, when moisture does come, it will come in bigger events.

"My feeling is we'll see more of these type of episodes in the future, five, 10, 15, 20, out 50 to 100 years from now," McInerney says.

Ski Utah says despite the dry weather, nine resorts are open and there are number of very good deals right now for locals, lift tickets and lodging.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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