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First fall storm delights winter revelers

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 6:09 p.m. MDT

Earl Underwood and Randy Klein hike to the top of Hidden Peak in several inches of newly fallen snow at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Earl Underwood and Randy Klein hike to the top of Hidden Peak in several inches of newly fallen snow at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The state's first fall storm draped high mountain peaks with a dose of snow Tuesday, a welcome change given Utah's protracted drought and sweltering heat over the summer.

"Well, you never look a gift horse in the mouth," said Randy Julander, supervisor of the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Utah Snow Survey.

"While it is appreciated, it does not put a whole lot of (water) down," Julander said. "The hope is there are another 10 to 15 storms following up."

Julander said the brush of snow, while providing a nice, scenic change of pace, will give way Wednesday as a warming trend returns. By this weekend, with temperatures inching back into the 80s, evidence of the storm will be just a memory.

Tram operator Kristy Spencer shovels snow at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Tram operator Kristy Spencer shovels snow at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"It was a nice little storm, and it's nice to know there is still water out there," Julander said. "But we've not picked up a whole lot of precipitation" in the northern part of the state.

Steady, drizzling rain socked in much of the valley, greeting commuters Tuesday and soaking lawns. Water managers say with the cooler weather, it's time to dial back the faucet for outdoor watering, which can be curtailed to once a week.

The state Division of Water Resources has a weekly lawn-watering guide at www.conservewater.utah.gov and at slowtheflow.org, where residents can find out more information on watering their landscapes. Residents can also follow the weekly lawn-watering guide on Twitter and Facebook.

Alex Blackmer rides the tram in the rain at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Alex Blackmer rides the tram in the rain at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Tuesday's storm also helped to quench lawns weary from the long summer. Point of the Mountain logged just over a half-inch of rain, while American Fork received .48 of an inch and Ogden recorded 0.13 inches of rain.

"It is always good to get snow in September," said Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

More than anything, this fall's first brush with wet weather in northern Utah can jump start a person's psychological well-being, especially if one likes to hit the slopes, McInerney added.

"It would be nice to get more of these consistently throughout the fall to give us enough moisture to soak up the ground," he said.

Andy Miller, communications manager at Park City Mountain Resort, said the wintry white landscape was a delight to explore Tuesday morning and a boost to employees antsy to get the ski season off to a good start.

Jacqueline Knutson and Alex Blackmer have a snow ball fight  after several inches of snow fell at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Jacqueline Knutson and Alex Blackmer have a snow ball fight after several inches of snow fell at Snowbird Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"What a great feeling is was to get up there and see some snow on the ground," Miller said. "It is great to get that little reminder that winter is just around the corner. Everybody is walking around with a bigger-than-usual smile on their face."

If all goes well, the resort has Nov. 17 circled on its calendar for opening day. In the meantime, Miller advises snow hounds to get the wax out and apply some TLC to ski and snowboard gear to be ready.

Both Julander and McInerney said it is impossible to say how well winter will perform this year, but both added they don't want an encore of last year's tepid showing.

"If we get an average year compared to then, it will be great," Julander said.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16

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