Sundance forecast calls for snow and stars
Winter weather expected to persist through opening weekend
January 20, 2017
Stars and snow are in the forecast for the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival.
The crowds in Park City for Sundance have arrived during a wintry weather pattern that will make everyday life a little bit more challenging for Parkites and the visitors. The snow totals are not projected to be consequential, but the weather is expected to persist through what is traditionally the busiest stretch of Sundance.
"It's just a freshening up of the snow conditions . . . Park City will look better with a little new snow," said Brian McInerney, a National Weather Service hydrologist who closely tracks snowpack in the state.
He said up to 10 inches of snow are expected in the Park City-area mountains through Wednesday. The figure drops to eight inches of snow in the city itself. The inch totals do not match the several feet of snow Park City received in the period before Sundance. The snow, though, will fall at a time when traffic is heavy, crowds of pedestrians are navigating routes between the festival venues and municipal workers are already logging long hours.
McInerney said it is also expected to be colder than it has been recently in Park City. He predicts slick roads and snow-covered streets at some points.
"A little slippery walking and a little slippery driving," he said.
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Park City snow-removal crews since New Year's have been kept busy with the earlier set of snowstorms. The snowplows made repeated runs and, afterward, heavy machinery and dump trucks were sent into Old Town to haul snow away from the tightly packed neighborhood. The hauling was ongoing as the early work of setting up for Sundance was starting.
Troy Dayley, the streets manager for Park City, said the crews in the last week-plus made space to store more snow if a significant amount falls during Sundance.
"That creates a little bit of room for the next storm . . . We can get through a few storms during Sundance," Dayley said.
He said the traffic during Sundance presents challenges for the snowplow crews, though.
The Park City Police Department anticipates the snowy weather will create problems on the roads. Many people in Park City are not used to driving in winter conditions, Phil Kirk, a police captain, said. There are a "fair amount of drivers less experienced" in snow, he said. Kirk said the Police Department is staffed to respond to slide-off accidents and other problems caused by snowy roads in addition to the officers who will be dealing with issues related to the festival crowds.
"I think we have quite a bit of experience dealing with that," Kirk said about winter weather. "We've got a pretty good track record of being able to handle that."
McInerney has said high-pressure systems that largely blocked storms from the region were prevalent starting in the fall of 2011 and ending in the spring of 2016. High pressure has not been as prevalent and the jet stream has shifted southward, leading to the series of storms this winter, he has said.