Jan. 30, 2002 -- Just in time for the world to focus on Utah's 2002 Winter Olympic Games, some of the state's ski areas got so much snow that they had to shut down.
"Some people who have been here for thirty years said that they have never seen it snow so hard," said Dave Fields of Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. 33 inches dumped on Snowbird in the 24-hour period leading up to Monday afternoon when Snowbird finally started its lifts at 3:30. The story at Alta was similar which opened only for about an hour in the afternoon. Brighton was open for a few hours early in the day, but had to close as snow totals got past the four-foot mark.
The road up to Alta and Snowbird was closed until 5pm on Monday. The Snowbird avalanche gun that helps to clear the road of avalanche danger malfunctioned in the morning and was out of commission much of the day. Fields said that there was too much snow for that to matter anyway: "it was snowing so hard that they could not have kept the road clear" even if there was no slide danger.
At 5:30am Brighton recorded 23 inches of new snow, but it didn't stop snowing. The Marketing Director of Brighton Ski Resort Dan Malstrom said that they decided to shut down the resort at noon because people were getting stuck in the deep snow and lift operators couldn't dig fast enough to make room for the chairs at loading and unloading stations.
It was the second big dump for region this season. In late November Snowbird got 100 inches of snow in 100 hours. So far Snowbird has 330 inches of snow this year. Alta measures over 26 feet of total snowfall and Brighton has about 350 inches.
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