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The Oakmonitor

Utah snow: Is it really that good?

Mikaela+Groncki+on+the+slopes+in+Utah%21
Mikaela Groncki
Mikaela Groncki on the slopes in Utah!

Where in the world is the snow the absolute best? Is it where it is cold, stormy, and wet? Or is it where it’s all dry and barely rains? The answer might surprise you. 

The best snow on earth is in a high desert called Park City, Utah. You might realize how unlogical that sounds. A high desert, has the best snow? -Unlikely.

As you can imagine, a dry climate with no humidity makes great snow. In Utah, the moisture content is 8%. There is a perfectly reasonable answer for that, as the rain travels over the Great Basin, it dries out. In the warmer weathered days, there gets to be major droughts. In Utah, citizens have to rely on the melted snow that falls into the dams for their water because such little rain makes it to Utah. 

The dry fluffy snow creates a great skiing experience, but all snow gets compacted and has a crusty layer, right? Well, because of the steepness of the canyon, Park City’s ski areas are mostly protected from high winds and radiation that create a crust for an unfavorable skiing experience. Instead of crusty snow you just can’t get an edge on, you get this beautiful fluffy powder perfect for skiing. 

When Utah gets snow, it dumps! After the snow clouds travel over the Great Basin, the clouds rapidly cool and the snow falls. In the year 2024, Park City, Utah had its most snowy February with a total of 102 inches of snow. That is equal to 8.5 feet of snow in one short month. 

The reason Park City got so much snow is because of a storm all the way in the state of Hawaii. There is a buoy in the ocean, off the coast of Hawaii. It is called the powder buoy. When a low-pressure system passes over the buoy, it forces the water upwards causing the “buoy pop,” which signals that a storm is coming to the West Coast of the U.S.. If the storm continues to go east toward Hawaii, the snow will hit the Wasatch mountains in about 2 weeks creating a massive dump of fresh powder. 

Storms like these are supercharged because of the Lake Effect. Because of the warm temperature of the Salt Lake, it never freezes. Cold air passing over the relatively warm lake causes the moisture to rise into the clouds, which enhances the storm.

The snowflakes themselves play a big role in forming the lovely powder. The snow is dendritic which means they have “tree-like” structures. They are arms of lighter and longer snowflakes due to the slower rate at which they fall, creating a less dense snowpack. 

Next time you plan your February break, remember what you have learned. Go to the high desert of Park City, Utah, throw on your skis, and say hi to the best snow on earth. 

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About the Contributor
Mikaela Groncki
Mikaela Groncki, Reporter
Mikaela Groncki is a part of the Class of 2026 at Oakmont Regional High School. This is her second year being a part of The Oakmonitor. She is a part of the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team, the Indoor Track team, and is on the Spring Track team. In her free time, she likes to ski, bike, hike, surf, play soccer, go on walks with her dog, Ellie, and do things with her friends.  

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