Park City suffers spell of warm, dry weather as ski season nears |

Park City suffers spell of warm, dry weather as ski season nears

Ski runs at the lower elevations, are bare on the front side of Park City Mountain Resort forcing the resort to delay its planned opening day. But snow is reportedly in the forecast for Thursday.

It has been sunny skies and warm temperatures instead of storm clouds and chilly fall temperatures as the ski season approaches.

The forecast calls for the spell of unseasonal weather to continue into the days before Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to open for the 2016-2017 ski season. Opening day at the Park City base area is scheduled on Nov. 18, according to PCMR, leaving fewer than 10 days to prepare any runs that would open that day. The Canyons Village side of the resort is scheduled to open Nov. 23, PCMR says.

The weather this week and into next could be problematic, though, according to a National Weather Service hydrologist who closely tracks snowfall in the region. Brian McInerney, who lives in the Snyderville Basin and is based in the Salt Lake City office of the National Weather Service, said a snow-monitoring station at approximately 8,000 feet in elevation in Thaynes Canyon early in the week did not show any measurable snow.

"We're devoid of any snow at all . . . When we measure snow, there's an absence of snow at this time," McInerney said.

In Salt Lake City, McInerney said, the weather between the summer and early November was warmer than is typical by approximately five degrees. September was a little cooler comparatively, though, he said.

McInerney said a high-pressure ridge, which pushes storms north or south and brings higher temperatures as well as clear skies, has settled over the region. He said it is expected to remain in place for another week. Forecasts for the weather once the high-pressure system breaks down are not as reliable as they are for the next week, he said.

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"If anything, we've been warmer and drier through the summer months and into the fall than we had been in the past," McInerney said, adding, "All you have to do is look out the window or walk outside."

The views across Park City early in the week showed largely brown hillsides with a smattering of snow at the highest elevations. The National Weather Service forecast for Park City, as of Tuesday morning, called for daytime highs to remain in the 50s or 60s through Monday. Nighttime lows are forecast to fall to as low as 30 degrees over the weekend.

The fall weather is important for mountain resorts and waterworks managers. The resorts hope for cold weather early in the season that allows them to make substantial amounts of snow to set a base and move toward opening day. Natural snow early in the season complements the snowmaking systems. Water managers, meanwhile, closely watch snow totals since melting snow provides drinking water. Fire agencies see snowy winters as providing some protection from summer wildfires since vegetation does not become dry until later.

Deer Valley Resort is scheduled to open Dec. 3 and said it has turned on the snowmaking equipment a few nights. Deer Valley historically makes snow during the first days of November if temperatures allow, Emily Summers, a spokesperson, said. She said the snowmaking crews are awaiting temperatures to dip to 28 degrees at night. Summers said snowmaking equipment is ready from the top to the bottom of seven runs on Bald Eagle Mountain or Bald Mountain.

"We are set up and staffed," she said.

PCMR said the snowmaking system is "ready to go as soon as cooler temperatures provide quality conditions," according to a statement the resort provided on Tuesday morning.

McInerney said a high-pressure ridge has been the overriding pattern in the region since the fall of 2011. It appeared for a time in 2015 that the ridge would break down, but it did not, he said. McInerney cautioned that weather patterns like the one of the past five years could become more prevalent through 2035 with a changing climate.

"This is just a taste of what's to come," McInerney said.