Thursday, November 9, 2023

Mother Nature Continues to Tease

The start of ski season is always a bit of a crap shoot, even in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Sometimes we get started in October.  Other times it can be deep into November.  What can be skied varies.

Two of the more memorable starts were in the early 2000s.  In 2001, snow was scant and the resorts were not open on Thanksgiving.  Then Alta got 100 inches in 100 hours during the holiday weekend and it was on.     

In October 2005 2004 (Editor: My bad!), we got pounded and Brighton was open not by Thanksgiving but Halloween.  

This year Mother Nature is electing to tease us with infrequent storms of modest size.  Per the Alta web site, 13.5" on October 11 and 12,  7.5" on October 26, and 11" on November 7.  Storm size and frequency have both been too small to establish a snowpack on sunny aspects, while a very marginal snow depth of 15" lingers at the Alta-Collins observing site.  Snow depth and water equivalent at the Snowbird SNOTEL are similarly a scant 5" and 1.5", respectively.  

The forecast is also a bit of a tease.  The GFS (and ECMWF) has a healthy cold front moving into the Pacific Northwest at 1200 UTC 11 November (0500 MST Saturday).  

That piques the interest, but the front falls apart as it moves inland, providing only some leftovers for the Idaho Panhandle and northwest Montana and just some clouds for northern Utah.  

The NAEFS is pretty much flatlined through November 15.  Then a few members start to tantalize, although there's a lot of spread if one goes beyond that and looks at the varying solutions for what will happen with the trough that is expected to develop near the west coast around that time.  

It is what it is.  Remember, it is early November.  Sometimes it takes time.    


  1. I believe it was October of 2004 when Brighton opened before halloween. They even managed to get Great Western spinning on halloween morning ~10am after it snowed nearly two feet the previous night. I managed to snag the 2nd chair on Great Western that morning and it was sublime. It was fun bragging to the Alta pass-holders the next day in the INSCC :-) JK

    1. You are correct. I was thinking in water years. I added a correction. Thanks for the correction.