Park City leaders roll out welcome mat for Old Man Winter |

Park City leaders roll out welcome mat for Old Man Winter

Oh the weather outside is hardly frightful.

Park City officials want that to change.

As what is typically one of the busiest ski weeks of the year fast approaches, the area is suffering through a prolonged spell of dry weather. Temperatures were warm until the past few days as well. There was little, if any, snow coverage at many lower-elevation locations in Park City.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday night took a stand on behalf of Old Man Winter, passing a resolution "welcoming the return of winter in Park City." The elected officials did not discuss the topic in any detail before unanimously passing the one-page resolution. Thomas joked that the municipal government is not a "Council-God form of government."

The resolution was passed a week before Christmas, a traditional time for ski vacations. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually one of the busiest on the Park City calendar.

The resolution talks about Park City’s heritage in winter sports and the local opportunities to downhill ski, snowboard, cross-country ski, snowshoe, among other wintertime activities. It mentions the city being home to Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort as well as Park City’s role during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The resolution also notes planned expansions by PCMR and Deer Valley. It says the tourism industry is important to the quality of life enjoyed by Parkites.

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The statement, meanwhile, praises the people who work at mountain resorts, like the ski patrollers, snowmaking crews, ski instructors and the grooming machine operators. It also notes the work of City Hall’s snowplow crews, saying they "are at their best when Mother Nature is at her worst."

"Now, therefore, be it resolved that on the occasion of the approaching Winter Solstice that the Mayor and City Council officially, heartily, and frostily welcome the Return of Winter to Park City and declare LET IT SNOW," the resolution says.

The resolution passed during what has been an unusual December weather pattern in Park City. A National Weather Service hydrologist who closely monitors precipitation numbers and other weather data in the area said the high temperatures in Salt Lake City during the first nine days of December were the warmest since 1874. Brian McInerney, a Silver Springs resident, said the high temperatures in Salt Lake City broke records for the date five times between Nov. 28 and Dec. 12.

"That’s why it looks like it does outside," he said.

McInerney said the snowpack total just after Thanksgiving was approximately normal for the time of year. But a split in the storm patterns set in shortly afterward. The snowpack total in the Park City area has since fallen to 64 percent of normal, as of Thursday, he said. The snow measurements are taken at a station in the Thaynes Canyon area of PCMR. McInerney said much of the snowpack was accumulated in November.

He said, though, a shift is forecast in the storm patterns. The storms thus far this winter have tracked to the north of the region. McInerney anticipates the pattern will move southward, perhaps starting as early as Saturday night. He said he expects approximately one inch of water will fall between Sunday and Monday. It will fall as rain up to 7,000 feet in elevation and as wet snow above that level, he said. McInerney said a cold snap with snow is forecast to hit on the day before Christmas.

"You don’t want to be breaking heat records continually like this," he said.