alta snow report

alta snow report

The Importance of the Alta Snow Report

1. Introduction to the Alta Snow Report

The next part of the report is the weather discussion. This explains what the weather is expected to do throughout the day and the effects it will have on skiing conditions. This is specific for Alta and very helpful when planning your day.

The Snow Safety department at Alta operates the largest in-bounds avalanche program in North America. Because of this, doing the morning snow study requires an enormous amount of work just to make sure the mountain is safe to ski. The ski patrol plot snow depths and weather observations on a map of the mountain, which provides a very thorough representation of the snow pack.

The first and most important thing to understand about the snow report is that it is the Ski Patrol’s own observations and measurements. They ski around the mountain in the morning before the lifts open and physically record how much new snow has fallen. This is a vital difference from most ski areas where the snow report is usually the result of a phone conversation between a PR person at the base of the mountain and someone in a weather office many miles away.

The Alta Snow Report is printed by the Ski Patrol and provides detailed information about the snow and weather conditions at Alta. The report is produced each morning before the lifts open and is typically available around 7:30 am.

2. Benefits of Checking the Alta Snow Report

With the incredible reliability of snow, skiers and snowboarders need to pay close attention to snow depths, particularly if they are headed to a ski resort for a specified amount of time. The Alta snow report is beneficial to skiers in that it provides accurate, up-to-date information closer to the time of anticipated use than web or telephone services. Imagine a skier planning to visit Alta in February. With average snow depths ranging from 10-12 feet in January and February, it is very probable that he/she has chosen those months to visit because of the known snowfall. Checking the Alta snow report a few days before their arrival will allow that person to see what snow and weather conditions they can expect during their stay. If only a few inches of new snow is in the forecast, the resort will still be skiable; however, he/she will have saved some money by not having to rent four-wheel drive transportation or lodging closer to the resort. Alternatively, if a major storm is in the forecast, they can plan accordingly to take advantage of the conditions with the expectation that there will still be good snow a few days after the storm has cleared. In the latter case, skiers not living in Utah may choose to reschedule their trip as there are usually flights on the day of or the day after a big storm that are relatively inexpensive since the weather is often better in the days following the storm. Finally, an updated snow report is beneficial for any decisions regarding backcountry skiing near Alta where the snowpack stability is of utmost importance for safety reasons.

3. How to Access the Alta Snow Report

For those who prefer using the Internet, does provide an email alert that will notify you when there is a significant dump of snow. It’s a very simple service powered by and is free of charge. After signing up for, skiers can select the resorts they are interested in. Then, when there is a notable amount of fresh snow, the subscriber will receive an email with the snow report for that resort. Although it is based on the weather service, the snow report email does not give an accurate reflection of current snow conditions on the mountain. Follow this link to sign up: [Link]

Alta also provides a telephone snow report, which can be accessed by calling 801 572 3939. This service provides a more detailed report than the web page, is updated daily at 5.30 am, and operates all day. The recorded message gives information about current snow conditions, weather, the condition of the road, and expected changes in weather. With the time and detail given, this service is quite reliable. An enthusiastic local skier and part-time Alta employee enthuses, “The snow report is awesome. It covers all the mountain operations. It’s the best place to start your day.”

The easiest way to access the Alta snow report is to log on to their website and follow the links through to the snow report page. The address for the Alta snow report is at [Link] This page gives a very concise report on the current snow conditions, a summary of the last snowfall, an analysis of the current weather, and the expected weather for the week. Usually, the information given is very detailed, and the accuracy is generally quite good. As Rob, a local skier comments, “The web page is often the most accurate. The road report and scanning radio channels give you an idea, but the web is the best.”

4. Understanding the Information in the Alta Snow Report

a. This is the most critical variable to predict though its meaning is often misunderstood. Some may take a couple inches of snow to mean bad skiing conditions but a more concerned skier might ask when and how that snow falls. One storm that brings 6 inches of wet snow on a warm night followed by rain will actually be less beneficial for skiing than one inch of light dry snow, because the rain will soak in and make a firm base at best covered by fresh snow. Snow conditions at Alta are only really affected by that which falls in the form of dry powder. Usually referred to as cold smoke by Alta skiers, it has low water content, fluff and great skier satisfaction, it’s what makes Alta legendary. An inch of snowfall is enough to make a report since some storms start as rain and turn to snow and less snowfall can occur at times between reports. Any snowfall is beneficial during the early season and less attractive is the need for rain at the base! After reading this first point you can already see how complex weather prediction can be and how a little understanding of it can help to interpret the report. Artis’s ski turning may occasionally rob the snow prophets of their credibility but this is not a big concern as no one truly expects a weatherman to be right and does it really matter? 2. **Accumulation and Average Snow Depth** – This is more self explanatory and is only relevant to accumulation of dry powder snow during ski season. Remember that Utah snow is of low density and high water content snow will compact to a lower depth.

1. **Weather Forecast** – This is an indication of the possibility of snowfall in the Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons either through expected snow amounts or forecasted precipitation in temperatures that would allow snow at upper canyon elevations.

Without understanding what a report is informing you, the information provided is meaningless. A skier or snowboarder will only get full benefit from the Alta Snow Report if they understand what is trying to be conveyed. It is the analysis of a number of different variables that are used to try and predict likely future snow conditions in the canyons and it helps to understand each of these variables.

5. Conclusion and Call to Action

It is up to all who read The Daily Alta to ensure that the publication of the Alta snow report is continued. Whether or not the U.S. Weather Bureau will continue to publish the report is unknown, as all governmental weather services will have less money to spend during the next few years. As indicated earlier, the U.S. Weather Bureau has only published the Alta snow report as a favor to one of its officials. Unlike its counterparts in Europe, the U.S. Weather Bureau has never made a practice of catering to the interests of skiers, a practice that would definitely benefit from the information that can be gleaned from the Alta snow report. Today, most of the weather services in the United States are highly automated and rely on electronic technology to forecast weather. Most, if not all, of the information in the Alta snow report is based on the old practice of “going out and finding out” what the conditions are. The report is useful to the Weather Bureau for it often fills in the gaps left by incorrect or unavailable data from the automated system. Both the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have recognized that weather and climate have a profound impact on public safety and economic stability and will become increasingly important in these areas in the future. The Alta snow report provides an excellent source of correlation between weather and the well-being of certain mountain ecosystems. Further allocation of funds to research a possible interagency agreement could lead to the future utilization of the Alta snow report as a tool in understanding regional weather and climate.

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