Residents in a southern Utah town dependent on business at a nearby ski resort were keeping a close watch on the skies to see if a Native American snow dance performed over the weekend bears fruit.
About a dozen dancers from several Indian tribes, adorned in traditional ceremonial costume, participated Saturday in a ritual Circle Dance at the request of snow-hungry business people."When the snow didn't come at Thanksgiving, we realized we needed to do something," said Scott Wheeler, manager of a restaurant in Brian Head.
"These dancers are not performers. They are dead serious and they know it's going to snow," said Wheeler, who along with other local business owners arranged for members of the Paiute, Navajo and Otoe tribes to exhort the heavens.
The forecast for southern Utah left the success of the snow dance an open question. The National Weather Service said the chance of measurable snow at Cedar City, about 15 miles east of the ski resort, was only 20 percent Sunday but had increased to 40 percent by Sunday night.
Widely scattered snow showers were forecast for southern Utah mountains through Monday, with a promising storm front expected to move into the state Wednesday.
While skiers are enjoying fair snow bases at northern Utah ski resorts, mostly the result of record snows in November, Brian Head Ski Area has so far been left high and dry.
It was a change from the last two winters, when Brian Head was the first resort in the state to open because of good snowfall. This year, the ski area has yet to post an opening date.
Eric Sjoden, Brian Head Ski Patrol director, said the resort so far has only a 14-inch base, that would "ski off really fast."