The Park Record editorial, December 28-30, 2011 |

The Park Record editorial, December 28-30, 2011

Investment in snowmaking is paying off in a big way

Last year at this time, Park City residents were digging out from under a string of ferocious snowstorms. At that point, many would have welcomed a week or so of blue skies just to clear a walkway to the woodshed and a slightly bigger parking spot by the front door.

This year, though, it is as if our whole ZIP code slipped into a different climate. As the current high pressure lingers like an unwelcome houseguest, some have resorted to witchcraft and folklore to try to conjure up a blizzard, or at least a hopeful flurry.

Fortunately, the local ski resorts have taken matters into their own hands and are not relying on community snow dances to ensure a successful season. Even as 2010’s freight train of snow was slamming into the Wasatch Mountains, plans were being laid to expand and upgrade snowmaking efforts.

Their wisdom is paying off in a big way. Even without a cloud on the horizon, each night small armies of employees at all three local ski areas have been creating their own blizzards and then grooming the output to welcome the next day’s skiers. Without them this winter holiday week, traditionally the busiest time of the year, might have been a disaster.

So far, the feedback from visitors has been positive. They understand the vagaries of weather and seem to be grateful for the resorts’ efforts. Ski areas in other parts of the country where temperatures have been unseasonably high are not faring as well. comparison, Utah is holding up admirably.

According to the National Weather Service, snow is in the forecast (which may indicate the witchcraft is working), but satellite images suggest the front is weak nothing like the winter storm warnings that made us rush out to buy new snow tires last year. So we are doubly grateful for the investments that were made in snow guns and the manpower to wield them this season.

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Tonight, we suggest, as you check out the night sky, lower your eyes to just below the ridgeline. There you will see a constellation of stars of a different type the headlights of groomers out on the slopes aligning the snow guns and ironing out a fresh layer of corduroy for the skiers and snowboarders who have come to Park City for an extraordinary vacation. They are the real stars of the show this week.