It’s a claim that graces licence plates, tourist brochures, and skiing websites: Utah, they all say, has “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” That, of course, is a pretty strong claim for any state to make, but in the case of Utah it actually has quite a bit of science to back up such a boast. The state’s Wasatch Mountains enjoy snow conditions that are completely unlike anywhere else in the world. Thanks to Utah’s unique geography and climate, the state gets what many skiers and meteorologists refer to as “Goldilocks” snow: that is, snow that is “just right” in terms of density, amount, and consistency.
With the skiing season now upon us, be sure to book your lodging in Park City soon so that you can enjoy the state’s perfect snow for yourself. If you’re curious about why that snow is so perfect, here’s a breakdown of the science that goes into creating Utah’s exceptional powder.
What Makes Great Snow?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that drier snow is always better snow. While moisture content is certainly a big part of what goes into making ideal snow for skiing, the truth is that great snow is a bit more complicated than how dry it is.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, there are other factors, including the frequency of snow storms, the amount that falls, and even the way snow gets dumped onto the mountains that makes for ideal snow. After all, the driest snow in the world isn’t much use to skiers if there is only a few inches of it or if it falls inconsistently.
Why is Utah’s Snow the Greatest?
First, the moisture content of Utah’s snow is neither too dry nor too wet. When storms move in from the Pacific, they dump snow on the Sierra Nevada that has a moisture content of about 12 percent, while in Colorado they release very dry snow.
Utah’s Wasatch Mountains fall right in between and get snow with an ideal moisture content of about 8.5 percent. Furthermore, the snow fall in the Wasatch Mountains is consistent and reliable, with Utah seeing 250 days of winter and about 40 snowstorms each year, 18 of them delivering 18 inches or more of snow, says 24 Salt Lake.
The Secret Ingredient
But what makes Utah’s snow really special isn’t found in the mountains, but in one of the state’s most unique geological formations: the Great Salt Lake. As those Pacific storms move over Great Salt Lake, they become colder and drier and that changes how their snow falls once they reach the Wasatch Mountains.
What you get is a snowfall that results in a heavy base with lighter, fluffier snow on top–or, in other words, snow that is absolutely perfect for skiing.
With perfect moisture, consistency, amounts, and that “secret ingredient” provided by Great Salt Lake, Utah can confidently boast that it is home to the “Greatest Snow on Earth.” A visit to Park City and the state’s other premier ski resorts this season will prove just how exceptional skiing in Utah really is.
Minnie Daughtry loves to write about her travels. She shares her experiences by posting on the Internet. Her articles appear mostly on vacation websites.