News » Features

Dreaming (Really) Of A White Christmas

You're welcome, Bogus.

You're welcome, Bogus.

Just as this article was about to go to press bemoaning the lousy snowfall thus far this year, it began dumping.

Not a moment too soon. As recently as Monday morning, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area looked bad. Weeds poked through the major runs. On the ski area's Web site, a plaintive message told eager skiers the area has no set opening date and practically begged people, "Please do not ski, board, walk or tube on the precious alpine base we are trying to preserve for opening day."

Now, they say they might open a couple of runs this weekend. Barely.

In Ketchum, locals were quaffing beers in Apple's Bar and Grill last weekend, but they were looking up at a ski hill with precious little snow to ski upon. Again, trees and shrubs poked through what is ordinarily a white sheet on Bald Mountain, the home of Sun Valley Ski Resort. As of early this week, a mere 53 inches had fallen in the year to date. From the Warm Springs Lodge, the roar of snow guns relentlessly showering the mountain with fake snow was a constant drone of white noise.

In McCall, Brundage has 100 percent of its terrain available if you don't mind hopping willow branches. Same for Tamarack.

More serious than that, however, was a report from the Twin Falls Times-News last week, about the state's general below-average snowpack. Phil Morrisey, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the group that regularly measures the mountain snowpack, said the state's load of frozen water was especially low in, you guessed it, the southern Idaho basins. Just 68.8 percent of the average snowpack is in place now, Morrisey said.

OK, it's early.

No, it's not: This time last year, Morrisey said, snowpacks were at 70 percent on average, too. And it was one of the driest years on record.

Instead of a La Nina year, which is the weather pattern that usually hauls in lousy weather—and snow, thank you—Idaho might be looking down the barrel at something less healthy.

"We're kind of in a 'No Nina,'" Morrisey told the Times-News.

If the weather pattern really doesn't regenerate, water managers say they'll be biting their nails and hoping for some hefty spring rains, according to a recent report completed by Morrisey's agency.

"If a good snowpack does not accumulate in the mountains this year, then Idaho's numerous water users will be hoping and praying for abundant spring precipitation," the report stated.

And when they're not hoping or praying, they could very well be bickering over water, something the Idaho Legislature may be discussing at length when they meet next month.

Until then, skiers look east for hope. In Driggs, Idaho, just across the border from Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee ski resorts, they're celebrating abundant snow. In Colorado, especially in the southern portions of the state, they're covered in the stuff. One skier reported to BW last week that on a non-steep run at Snowbird ski resort in Utah, there was so much snow that they actually stopped moving, because the powder was so thick it kept them from flowing downhill.

Lord, deliver us such problems.

If BW's record on such things remains consistent, this doom-and-gloom scenario will end shortly after the publishing of this article. Just now, in fact, a series of small storms are washing over the area, possibly granting enough fluff to open a lift at Bogus. Maybe.