2021’s “Winter” Weather

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Max Torres, Sports Editor

Looking back on 2020, there are many things that we have the right to complain about. But as we moved into the winter months of late last year and early this year, one issue had shown itself in full force. There has been a severe lack of snow, water, and moisture in the Salt Lake Valley as well as up in the Wasatch Mountains. 2020 was one of the driest years on record in a very long time and it has affected life as many people in Utah know it. 

For Utahns, winter means that it is time to go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and more. Our state is known for having the greatest snow on earth, and people take advantage of the unique conditions that create such perfect powder on the mountains. But this season, the snow situation is looking a little different from what we are used to. The base amount of snow at most ski resorts is around 30 or 40 inches, with some being higher in the ’50s and some lower in the ’20s. This is very unusual compared to past years that have had much more snow earlier in the winter.

This reduced amount of snow affects much of what people do up at Resorts such as Alta, Snowbird, and Brighton. Less snow means less terrain available to ski or snowboard and can create dangerous situations for newcomers to the sports as well as experienced professionals. Anyone who has gone up the canyons this year can testify to the almost disturbing number of rocks, trees, bushes, and other natural objects on the mountain that normally are covered by feet of snow. 

John Higby, a senior at Highland High, is an avid skier and has been since he was a young child. He routinely goes skiing around two times a week if possible, and has really gotten to know the mountains and where the best spots can be found. This year has created a new problem for Higby, as he has found it difficult to ski at the levels and areas he is used to. Higby is an optimistic young man however and is happy that he is even able to go skiing at all.

Higby said, “I can’t say I’m happy about it (snow levels), but I’ve had a ton of fun skiing even without the usual amount of snow.”

This is similar to many people’s thoughts this year since the skier attitude is very light and happy. But everyone is crossing their fingers for more snow since more than just their ski season depends on it. 

Another very prominent problem that this causes is a dangerously low level of water that will drain from the mountains during the summer months. Utah depends on the melting snowpack to provide water during the warmest part of the year and always has. Even if people do not realize it, we would be in terrible trouble if the mountains did not have enough melting snow to hydrate the state. Utah is a desert and therefore does not often receive the kind of rainwater that other places find common. This is why many people are worried about not having enough water during the summer and are praying that more snow arrives before it is too late. 

Higby mentioned his worries for the summer as well, knowing that this lack of snow won’t only affect his ski season.

“I’m definitely worried about it, because spring skiing isn’t going to be good, and we are going to have a water crisis on our hands in the summer if this continues,” Higby said. 

If the weather stays the same as it has been, the snowpack will be painfully low, and the summer will be hot and dry without the usual water that is provided by lots of melting snow. But with recent changes in the forecast, things may be looking up for 2021.

This past weekend has brought hope to the skier culture with a snowstorm that delivered up to 22 inches for some resorts. Last Saturday was the first true powder day for many people this year since everyone was used to terrible conditions each week. As the snow continued to fall, the number of cars packing up the canyons road only continued to rise. Many resorts had to turn people around at the parking lots because there was no room for another car. 

This snowstorm was a much-needed change for Higby, as it provided a chance to go and ski some Utah powder. It also helped to brighten his mood.

Higby said, “I am absolutely hyped about the snow, it will affect my mental health as I am going to be so much calmer. If these storms keep coming, we should be fine.”

People have been extremely excited to get a taste of what Utah has to offer at the ski resorts. But they are also happy that the coming weeks are showing similar amounts of snowfall, allowing for better skiing and hopefully less dry summer months. Everyone is needing a change from the issues that 2020 caused, and more snow will fulfill those expectations.