Utah is home to “The Greatest Snow on Earth” and receives a staggering average of 500 inches of annual snowfall. This year was an exception. Alta reported only 324 inches of snowfall, representing a 36 percent deficit.
The numbers of skiers visiting Utah was high despite the unusually dry 2014-2015 ski season. “As everybody knows, the snowfall was below average, but that doesn’t mean that the skiing wasn’t great,” said Paul Marshall, Ski Utah director of communications.
The $1.3 billion winter sports industry in Utah relies heavily upon Mother Nature delivering a generous amount of snow.
“The ‘mountains’ did an amazing job given the circumstances. They invested a lot of their resources into snowmaking, which kept the mountain skiable until the end of the ski season,” Marshall said.
Snowmaking seems to be the answer when Utah suffers below-average snowfall. “Snowmaking is an essential part of keeping the resorts as pristine as possible,” Marshall said. Resorts use watersheds to make needed snow for the season.
Each resort is allotted a specific amount of water to use at its discretion. Water levels are closely monitored, and snowmaking becomes a fine art. Although locals expect the deep powder Utah is known for, the novice skier can rarely differentiate between manmade and real snow.
This year’s ski season was an accomplishment even when “our winter weather did not cooperate as many might have hoped,” according to President of Ski Utah Nathan Rafferty.
“I have personally witnessed the smiling faces of skiers and snowboarders who have enjoyed great experiences here in Utah this winter season,” Rafferty said. “As a local, it’s easy to get frustrated with anything but the deep powder we are normally accustomed to. But we need to remember that the majority of the visitors to the mountains we call home have just as much fun, if not more, cruising on perfectly groomed snow under sunny skies.”