S2:Ep7. Jim Steenburgh: Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth
Growing up near upstate New York's Tug Hill plateau (think Lake Ontario lake effect snow), Steenburgh was no stranger to snow. In fact, he'll tell you about his powder skiing experiences at tiny Powder Ridge there. But once he sampled Utah powder on a college trip with his father, there was no turning back. Lo and behold, a job offer to teach at the University of Utah set him up. Today, he's the guy you want in your ski group to tell you where to find the snow.
OpenSnow.com or UtahSkiWeather.com are good possibilities. Let the experts be the ones to guide you. Becoming an armchair forecaster, if you're not in Utah, can be challenging. It takes a while to get used to the meteorology around here. But looking at those forecasts is pretty important. If you're thinking about riding at a resort but going out of bounds, you know, you really want to be looking at what is happening with the snowpack and with avalanches on UtahAvalancheCenter.org. For me, it's one of those things where I try to look at it every day so I'm in tune with what's going on.
So, what's the analysis? Does Utah have the Greatest Snow on earth?
I often tell people there's not a scientific test for the Greatest Snow on Earth - it's in the eye of the beholder. I don't think there's any doubt, though, that that Utah has some of the Greatest Snow on Earth. There are really three kinds of key ingredients for great powder skiing or a great powder skiing climate. But Utah's climatology, especially in the Cottonwood Canyons, is really biased towards lots of pretty good powder days.
Listen in to Ski Utah's Last Chair episode with Jim Steenburgh to learn more including:
- His favorite Utah ski run.
- How he became a ski racing fan.
- His secret Utah backcountry line (well, sort of).
- What tragedy was averted at the 2002 Olympic Closing Ceremony?
- The deepest powder day of his life.
- And why depth alone isn't necessarily an indicator of great powder skiing (think float).
Utah Powder Fun Facts (from Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth)
- State Record 24-hour Snowfall: Jan. 4-5, 1994, Alta, 55.5 inches of snow with water content of 5.7%
- 105-mm howitzers are among the tools used by resorts and highway crews to mitigate huge dumps of snow.
- Avalanches were commonplace in the mining era of the 1880s, claiming many lives.
© 2014 by the University Press of Colorado
Published by Utah State University Press
Powder Skiing for College Credit
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