Warm weather pushes opening dates back

By By Jessica Dunn

By Jessica Dunn

There is a rumor of an old man who has skied Alta Ski Area his entire life. People say he has figured out the Utah weather pattern for snow and he’s almost always right.

The old man believes that this pattern determines when the resorts will open. As far as this year is concerned, he’s dead on.

The pattern starts with three seasons that have opening dates before Thanksgiving Day. Then for the following three seasons, the opening date alternates — one after Thanksgiving, one before, then one after. Every six seasons, the pattern starts again.

This year looks to be a post-Thanksgiving snow season. The majority of ski resorts have had to push back their anticipated opening dates because of the unseasonably warm weather, and will open on or after Thanksgiving.

Solitude Ski Resort is the only resort open in Utah. It has a few runs open where it has been making as much snow as the temperatures have allowed.

Wes Morin, a sophomore in film studies, went up to Solitude opening day Friday.

“It was worth it,” Morin said. “The snow was perfect compared to back East where you’re just riding on a sheet of ice.”

Park City has set its opening date for Wednesday. Snowbasin, Wolf Mountain and Brian Head have set the date for this Thursday. Deer Valley is opening Dec. 8, and the rest of Utah’s resorts are playing it by weather and mountain conditions.

Most resorts look to have a 20-inch base before they open, said Chris Searle, the ski-school director at Brighton.

The 20-inch base can be natural and man-made snow, and should cover most of the rocks, grass and weeds on trails, Searle said. Brighton has no base, but they set up 27 machines and started making snow Monday night.

After the string of winter storms at the end of October, most resorts had a good base, and many skiers and boarders anticipated an early season.

Keith Hambrecht, a junior in material science and engineering, said he hiked Alta in knee-deep powder in October.

“It got my hopes up, only to let me down,” Hambrecht said. “I’m still optimistic though.”

Most of the snow that fell in October has melted, and all anyone can do now is wait for cooler temperatures and a good storm.

A string of storms is expected to start moving in this week and a chance of snow is in the forecast for most of the week.

Whether it is a prayer to the snow gods, a snow dance or a superstitious night of sleep in your gear, the snow will come, eventually. Only Old Man Winter knows when.

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