1 of 10
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
“Leopard Man” waits in the lift line at Snowbird on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. During the day, Ski Utah and Protect Our Winters encouraged skiers and riders to carpool, take UTA or ride-share to help lower CO2 emissions, reduce traffic congestion and increase the overall awareness around environmental accountability as part of the second annual POW Day.

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — Tyler Walker almost can't believe his luck.

"Best powder day, after best powder day, after best powder day," Walker said Friday in between ski runs at Brighton Resort. "It doesn't stop."

In the valleys, snow can sometimes be a nuisance. But regular snowstorms this month have been a welcome sign to Walker and other Utahns who make their fun on the slopes.

"Bring on all the snow," Walker said. "I'll keep shoveling all winter to get those powder turns."

The steady deluge of snowstorms in the new year has ski resorts, vacationers and snowpack experts feeling cheerful so far about the winter season.

Brighton Resort has received 119 inches — or nearly 10 feet — of snow since Jan. 2. Deer Valley has had 101 inches during the same time, while Solitude Mountain Resort has received 99 inches. Ski Utah officials say this winter season could be one of the best in recent years.

"When Mother Nature cooperates, it always helps us with bookings and destination travelers," said Paul Marshall, spokesman for Ski Utah, a member association for the state's resorts. "A lot of the resorts (are) very excited about the numbers."

The impressive snow totals are undoubtedly good for business in no small part because morale is high among skiers and snowboarders, he said.

"It's been one of those things where spirits are high. You hear a lot of yelping on the mountain," Marshall said. "There's a lot of smiles on people's faces."

Kylie Fly was one of those who was smiling Friday at Brighton.

"It's my first season here. I just moved to Utah, so it's like the perfect welcome to living in Utah and seeing what this powder's about," Fly said.

Mountain snowpack statewide is measuring between 130 percent and 200 percent of normal levels, which is "just absolutely outstanding" for water conservation managers as well, said Randy Julander, snow survey supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Utah.

Those figures are the highest at this point in the winter since 2010-11.

Forecasts indicate that that pace is likely to continue in the near future, according to Julander.

"It looks like things are very favorable in the next couple of weeks for getting additional snowpack," he said.

But Julander also warned that snowpack was about 115 percent of normal levels last year at this time before the weather went dry, meaning spring runoff was below initial expectations. The same thing could happen again, he warned.

"We're headed for a slam dunk, but there's still an opportunity for this thing to derail and go sideways on us," he said. "There's lots and lots of things that can happen between now and then."

Ideally, at least two or three more significant storm fronts will guarantee the snowpack meets at least normal levels at the end of the winter season, Julander said. The snowpack is measured in early April, when it's typically at its peak quantity.

If mountain snowfall from now until April keeps an above-average pace, Julander said experts will "start playing the what-if games" about the potential for spring flooding.

"Any time you have over 150 percent of average snowpack going into the melt season, there's always concern," he said.

Marshall believes a lot of skiers and snowboarders will likely be hitting the slopes when spring arrives, thanks to a generous winter. That especially applies to "storm chasers" from outside Utah who "definitely plan their trips around where the snow's falling," he said.

"We already have in some mountains a 100-inch snowbase, which is great to have and automatically makes the season longer in terms of quality of snow," Marshall said.

For Tyrez Bowling, who is from Washington, D.C., and visited Brighton on Friday to snowboard, the Utah snow was noticeably fresh and deep.

"Conditions are real nice up (here) — a lot of powder, good spots, not too cold out. All you'd need is a little sun and it'd be perfect," Bowling said. "Where I normally snowboard, there's icy spots, but it's real nice out here."

Local skier Derrick Williams agreed. Even the drive to Brighton was amazing, he said, because of the sheer amount of snow he could see piled up.

"There's like 10, 15 feet of snow on both sides and you can't even see over the ledge of the road because of all the snowpack," Williams said.

"We love it!"

Contributing: Mike Anderson