Failing Winter

December 11, 2015

So the start of our season, despite much excitement around the west of El Nino, the disgruntled snow child of the weather gods, has been somewhat lack luster. The early snows were actually exciting and everyone started ramping up. Touring started early. I went out too. But I've been watching the weather trends, the atmospheric moisture movements in our part of the world as well as temperatures and actual snowfalls... It's been a disappointment but it's more or less been expected...

The El Nino is a gift to skiers everywhere across the west. We love it and when we're told that it's coming our way we impart our many thanks. What it means overall is that we're going to get a solid snowpack for our summer water supply, some much needed contribution for global cooling and then the obvious experience of being able to surf the snow, to explore the world on a different level and share those experiences with our closest friends.

The surrounding states have had a more pronounced start to their season with places like Mt Baker currently sitting at 98" base; Mammoth Mountain anywhere from 2-4' of base and Jackson Hole with 78" of snowfall for the season thus far.

Temperatures were cool for the start. I'm in the second week of warming weather (today December 11) with a supposed snow storm rolling in. Temps therefore have to drop in typical fashion. But the underlying theme I keep seeing with the weather patterns for Utah is above average warm weather (expected) and then this: (look at this radar image from today on the NOAA.gov site)

The image shows what I have been tracking for the past 4 - 5 seasons. There is a high pressure moistureless finger that traverses from eastern California across Nevada and currently ends above Yellowstone. I've generally been seeing this fingertip hovering over my beloved Wasatch Range. You can imagine my frustration. And everyone elses. We started to notice this change after Fukushima. Winters haven't been the same. Correlation or no correlation the timing seems to be more than coincidence.

As Global Warming continues to take a toll we have been experiencing ever warming temperatures in our favorite ski regions. While the northwest into British Columbia have been getting hammered with snowfall we're in the mid 50's farenheit and not freezing at night. The lower elevations of Oregon and Washington have been getting hammered with rain, people dying as a result of flooding and other catastrophic results of too much precipitation at once. As we know already, the atmospheric moisture levels aren't so much the issue now as much as changing weather patterns and elevated global temperatures.

I recently attended a fundraiser with Heal Utah that was informative and interesting. The keynote speaker wasn't an interesting alternative energy concern or even one of the organizations agents, it was Gretel Ehrlich, a writer and traveler concerned with what's happening to the world. While Heal's message is to get tougher restrictions on big polluters her message was clear: as the earth warms, places are being lost and people are disappearing; people are loosing their heritage, history, and home. Take the native people of Greenland as an example, they're loosing everything. In some cases, their minds. We're in dire straits. While I am concerned about skiing and where the snow is, I'm more concerned that without a certain level of concerted action we cannot fight this problem fast enough.


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