Every year I say it: Where'd the winter go?
Last weekend there was a mass exodus of resorts from the ski front.
Nine had closed, two more will close for good this weekend, one more a week later ... and then there was one.
Snowbird, as is now chiseled in tradition, will be the last to close.
The resort's announced closing is May 26. And were it not for the fact that cables need to be replaced on the Tram, it could have been July 4.
Twice, now, Snowbird has offered skiing up to and including July 4.
Back in 1995, the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort attracted skiers who hadn't hit the slopes for months but who wanted the chance to say they had skied on the Fourth of July.
At the time, Snowbird still had about 4 feet of snow at the top of Hidden Peak. Lift-operated skiing had never before extended that late in the year in Utah.
Again, in 2005, Snowbird announced it would remain open through July 4.
"There is no better way to end Snowbird's spectacular season than to go out with a bang on the Fourth of July," said Bob Bonar, president. "Thanks to Mother Nature's delivery of over 630 inches of snow this winter, it looks like we'll be able to do just that."
The 2004-05 ski season was the longest in both Snowbird's history and in the state of Utah. The season began Nov. 5. By closing on July 4, Snowbird was open for skiing and snowboarding for 201 days.
At the time of its closing, the resort had nearly 90 inches of snow in the upper areas of the resort.
So far this season, Alta has received nearly 680 inches of snow.
Putting 680 inches into perspective, two years ago Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, climbed to the fifth floor of the Sheraton Hotel to illustrate just how high 600 inches goes. What he found was that he didn't go high enough and climbed to the sixth floor.
Measured in feet, Utah has had a total snowfall of more than 56 feet.
To add a little more depth to the report, Snowmass in Colorado, which typically receives the greatest snowfall in the neighboring state, had received 407 inches by March 31, which is a Colorado record.
By March 31, Alta had received 609 inches, or roughly 16 feet more snow than Snowmass.
Only five winters since 1934 have had greater amounts in Colorado.
From December to March, the resort had received 388 inches, which breaks a record of 273 inches set in 1983-84.
Even resorts in the East had better than average snowfall this season. Vermont's Stowe, for example, averages 333 inches. This year it recorded a total of 374 inches.
Remember, now, Utah had roughly 400 inches of snow in all of 2006-07, and locals were calling it a "bad" year.I think it's pretty evident that Utah is a pretty snowy state, and Utah resorts do get more than their share of snowflakes over the course of winter. But, here it is, time to start putting the ski gear away, and it doesn't seem that long ago I was digging it out.
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