Park City has snow, but the slopes aren’t quite ready
The mountains are white, but the benefit of that freshly fallen snow is mostly psychological.
Last week’s snowfall was mentioned on CNN and the phones at Park City Mountain Resort were ringing, said spokesperson Paula Altschuler.
Early snowfall in Utah usually makes national news because it’s typically the first of the season, explained Elizabeth Dowd of The Canyons.
Coming from Connecticut, she said her family was always amazed to hear of snow on the ground at Halloween in Utah.
"We never have enough snow; we can never have too much. It’s a good thing to see it come down earlier because it gets people jazzed," she said.
The real benefit of the snow, though was the cold temperatures that brought it. In November, the resorts hope for subfreezing temperatures for snowmaking to build a dense base of about 24 inches, said Erin Grady of Deer Valley.
That base is vital to being ready for opening day. If that two feet comes from heavy, compactable fallen snow, all the better, but it’s usually achieved through snowmaking.
The mix of natural and machine snow makes for better skiing, but the resorts can, and frequently have, opened without fallen snow so long as that base is ready. Altschuler said they’re about 80 percent ready for Park City’s planned opening on Nov. 22.
The snow that’s been falling in November is wet, which will stick well with the man-made snow and add to the base, but right now her resort is watching the thermometer more than the ruler.
This week is predicted to be warmer, and much of the fallen snow around town may melt, but the following week is expected to be chilly and good for snowmaking, she said.
Another reason the resorts don’t get too excited about early snow is that they know that when the snow comes, it will be good.
Some Colorado resorts open mid-October, Dowd said, even if only one run is ready. People are beginning to grasp how fluffy the powder is in Utah. She thinks it’s wise that Park City resorts don’t get into the race to be earliest.
"Fortunately, we live in a place that always has a storm," Dowd said.
When big snowfall comes in January, the phones ring off the hook with bookings through March. The precipitation in November is helping bookings for December, she said.
People in Florida or New York enjoying an Indian summer and autumn conditions see reports of snow in Utah and it makes them start planning ski vacations, Grady said.
"Early snow gets the message out that we’re getting snow and it puts in the mind that the season is around the corner and Christmas is coming up," she said.
PCMR Nov. 22
The Canyons Nov. 27
Deer Valley Dec. 6
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