Park City plans for outdoor rinks at City Park put on ice as warm temperatures persist
It could be close to Christmas before the sheets debut atop the tennis courts
It is advantage Mother Nature in Park City’s efforts to turn the tennis courts at City Park into outdoor ice for the winter.
As the spell of warm, dry conditions continues, City Hall remains unable to create the ice rinks that officials had wanted to debut in early December. That target will not be hit, and officials early in the week indicated an opening will likely be delayed until later in the month. At the earliest, an official said, the ice could be ready in the week before Christmas.
Park City acquired three 6,000-square-foot rink kits that will be put atop the tennis hardcourt. Water will be poured into the kits and then be left to freeze, creating the rinks. There will be no refrigeration, meaning that the rinks depend on cold outside temperatures.
The recent daytime temperatures have soared above the freezing mark. The National Weather Service early in the week projected highs in the 50s through Saturday and a high of 47 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday. Thursday was projected to be the warmest day, with a predicted temperature of 55 degrees.
Mike Diersen, the head of operations at the Park City Ice Arena, said the temperatures on the tennis court concrete in recent days have reached between 45 degrees and 50 degrees. He said the concrete has essentially been soaking up heat and holding onto it during the stretch of warm temperatures.
He said “cold temperatures for an extended period of time” are needed before the ice can freeze. Ideally, he said, the temperatures would remain below the freezing mark.
“This is very weather dependent,” he said.
Once the temperatures are low enough, it is expected to take several days for the water that will flood the tennis courts to freeze, he said. The three rinks will be separated from one another.
The ice is a pilot project.
The warm, dry weather has had significant impacts on the Park City area as the community prepared for the start of the ski season. Most notably, Park City Mountain Resort was forced to delay its opening as the temperatures hindered snowmaking efforts. PCMR opened on Sunday after initially planning to start the lifts before Thanksgiving. Deer Valley Resort remains on schedule for a Saturday opening.
A National Weather Service hydrologist recently said there was a high-pressure system over the region in late October and in November. The system moved the storm track north of Utah and kept the temperatures above normal, said Glen Merrill, who works in the National Weather Service offices in Salt Lake City. Snow that fell earlier in the season at the lower elevations of the Park City area was essentially lost.
The ice on the tennis courts will operate as long as conditions allow. The general manager of the ice arena has indicated the ice could potentially last until late March.
The ice at City Park, which will be free to use, is seen as an amenity that will create a wintry atmosphere and will reduce some of the pressure on the Ice Arena. Skating sports usually enjoy a surge in popularity in years of a Winter Olympics. The Games in Beijing are scheduled in February.
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