Climate change has long been a pressing issue to scientists and skiers alike. The heat waves have warmed up Utah’s winters and made them more mild, affecting its ski resorts.
“The key, bottom-line thing is, yes, Utah is getting warmer, but you want to be careful about looking at relatively short time periods like the last eight years,” said Dan Bedford from the Weber State University Department of Geography. “People are talking about the last 16 years showing little to no warming.”
According to Almanac.com, the temperature in Ogden during February in particular has fluctuated in the past eight years. On Feb. 26, 2006 — the warmest year of the past eight — temperatures reached as high as 57 degrees. Out of those eight years, only 2007, 2012 and 2013 had temperatures below 40 degrees on Feb. 26.
Utah State University has done research showing the winter snow pack has decreased over time. According to the report, “Observational and Synoptic Analyses of the Winter Precipitation Regime Change over Utah,” winter precipitation falling as snow has decreased by 9 percent during the last half century.
Marla Rawlings, snow sports director at Wolf Mountain, said she has noticed more rain showers every year. “We have actually had an increase of ski lessons this year, but I kind of think it’s the new management that has done it,” she said. “. . . It (the rain) shortens our season because we don’t get snow as early as we used to, so we don’t open as early as we used to, and then we can’t stay open as late. I haven’t seen a decrease, because most of the kids that came for lessons are school groups. Overall . . . we probably have seen a decrease in lift tickets.”
The heat Utah has seen in recent years has affected the time local ski resorts can stay open. With a shorter season, skiers and snowboarders may not be able to get in as many ski days as they would like.
“I definitely feel like global warming is an issue for snowboarders, and I heard that they are trying to come up with a bill to start charging more for car registration and raising prices for heating for your houses so that they can get rid of the greenhouse effect here in Utah,” said Rachel Mize, junior in health promotion and nutrition. “I think it is a wonderful idea. I remember 15 years ago when I was a kid, and there was tons and tons of snow, and just this year, it’s February and it’s 55 degrees outside. It’s a huge difference.”
The increase in temperature also concerns some students who don’t participate in winter sports.
“I don’t ski or snowboard, but if I did, I would be hoping that the temperatures dropped so that skiing conditions would be better,” said Francine Huband, nursing major. “Global warming worries me because temperatures have been increasing rapidly.”