OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Utah snow base dropping due to high temps

Dec 18, 2023, 10:58 AM

a snowboarder is pictured in a snowy area in utah ski resort...

A snowboarder walks near a lodge at Brighton Ski Resort on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY– This winter’s unusually warm temperatures are causing the Utah snow base depths in the mountains to quickly drop. 

The last big snow day Utah saw was over a week ago, on Dec. 9.  Since then, the snow base in the Salt Lake area mountains has decreased by about 2 inches a day.

Over the next several days Utah will see temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees. The rise in temperature is likely to decrease our mountain’s snow base even faster

According to Ski Utah, several ski resorts reported a drop in Utah snow base depth over the last seven days. For instance, Alta Ski Resort lost 9 inches, dropping from 64 inches to only 55 inches as of Monday.

Brighton Ski Resort lost 10 inches over the last week with a current base of 35 inches. Snowbird dropped 5 inches bringing the snow base to  39 inches. 

In other areas like Heber Valley and Park City, the loss is less dramatic. Those mountains lose about an inch of snow base a day. Ranges with higher elevations like Provo and Cedar City only lost a negligible amount. 

What is snow base? 

According to Ski.com, snow base is the “average depth of the snow on the mountain.” 

The LA Times reported that smaller ski resorts measure snow base with a stake or by letting fallen snow accumulate on a board for measurement. Larger resorts, however, may use high-tech methods. 

One higher-tech option for measuring snow base is ultrasonic technology. According to the National Weather Service, ultrasonic waves are sent down into the snow. The sensor listens for them to echo. 

The distance between the sensor and the ground can be used to calculate the depth of snow. 

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Utah snow base dropping due to high temps