SNOWBIRD — At first, skiers and snowboarders wondered if it would ever snow.

In November, Snowbird received a total of 11 inches of natural snow.

Then skiers and boarders wondered if it would ever stop snowing.

In January, Alta received a record 179 inches, and there were very few blue-sky days.

And now, skiers and snowboarders can rest assured that the second half of the ski season won't lack snow.

Consider these points:

• Some Utah resorts are 140 percent of average for their year-to-date snowfall.

• Park City has had 44 powder days thus far this season.

• Powder Mountain had eight days where it received more than 10 inches of new snow in January.

• Alta received 179 inches of snow in January, which tied an all-time record originally set in 1996. Long-term average for January is 92.22 inches.

• Solitude averaged seven inches of new snow a day in December.

• Snowbird averaged five inches a day through January.

• Alta has had 49 days where it reported new snow this season and 17 days where 24-hour totals were more than 10 inches.

• Alta had a total of 404 inches in all of 2006-07. It hit 404 inches for this season back on Feb. 1. Its current total is 467 inches. Snowbird had 365 inches in 2006-07. It hit 367 inches on Feb. 4. The long-term average for the season for both resorts is 500 inches.

• In the first eight days of February, Alta received 51.5 inches of new snow. The long-term average for February is 89.4 inches.

• Since 1981, Alta has recorded seven seasons where totals went over the 600-inch mark, which amounts to enough snow to bury a six-story building. Those seasons were: 1981-82 (748), 1982-83 (687), 1983-84 (708.5), 1996-97 (620.5), 1997-98 (659.5), 2004-05 (697.5) and 2005-06 (641).

• And, the two snowiest months are typically March and April, which means a record could well be in the making.

Back in mid-November, no one would have ever guessed snow totals would be this high midway through the season.

Only four resorts were able to open for the Thanksgiving holiday, and only then because of man-made snow equipment.

Then, on Dec. 1 it started to snow. Snowbird received a foot.

Since then, the phones have been ringing and parking lots have been full.

"Our call volume has been consistently strong since early January. The great snow has given people reasons to book all the way through March. Early indicators are that Presidents week is looking great, and with Easter falling on March 23, we are encouraged about March," said Elizabeth Dowd, public relations manager at The Canyons.

"The local business is also looking good, as the great conditions have brought out the locals."

The constant string of storms resulted in some hardships, especially for local skiers. There have been several days when both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons were closed for avalanche control.

There have also been fewer blue-sky ski days that typically attract locals.

Laura Schaffer, director of public relations at Snowbird, said that over the weekend it was obvious that "people were out looking for and enjoying those clear, blue skies. You could tell they were happy to see the clear skies."

Jay Burke, director of marketing at Solitude, said the resort was "having a great year so far as it pertains to skier visits. Our early opening with man-made snow and good snow once we hit mid-December helped those first two months. January was great and numbers for skier visits are greater than anticipated. All of the snow is really bringing out the locals."

He said lodging was soft early in the season, but picked up for the Christmas holidays.

"The snow is helping with booking for March, and we anticipate March and April to continue to fill — especially April, which is difficult due to an early Easter," he added.

The report from Alta is that the call volume is up. Lodges are reporting that they are full on most weekends through March. Calls seem to be predominantly from Texas, California, Canada and New York.

Connie Marshall, director of public relations at Alta said, "As far as the ski area, this year is a locals' dream. We are seeing them in full force."

Base depths at Utah resorts this week were: Alta, 137 inches; Beaver Mountain, 105 inches; Brian Head, 60 inches; Brighton, 116 inches; The Canyons, 114 inches; Deer Valley, 122 inches; Park City, 97 inches; Powder Mountain, 123 inches; Snowbasin ,131 inches; Snowbird, 134 inches; Solitude, 117 inches; Sundance, 75 inches; and Wolf Mountain, 75 inches.

Utah is not the only state getting good snow. Storms are also hitting Colorado. Back on Feb. 1, Aspen reported its year-to-date snowfall hit 200 inches, which is high for that area. Currently the mid-mountain base at Aspen is 63 inches, which again is higher than average. Steamboat is reporting a 74-inch base and Vail a 59-inch base.

Resorts in the East are also getting snow. In Vermont, Stowe is reporting a 34- to 74-inch base and Killington a 40- to 54-inch base.

Whiteface Mountain in New York has a 37- to 58-inch base. In California, Mammoth Mountain is reporting a 110- to 140-inch base and Squaw Valley a 150-inch base. Sun Valley in Idaho has a 49- to 90-inch base and Jackson Hole in Wyoming is reporting an 88- to 101-inch base.

As noted, March and April are typically among the snowiest months, which will ensure Utah resorts remain snow covered.

So what is Utah going to do with all this snow?

TOP 10 LIST FROM SKI UTAH

1. Burn more calories! A 150 pound adult burns approximately 205 calories for every half hour spent shoveling snow.

2. Drink more water. Utah ski resort snow totals measure approximately 140 percent of average with a water forecast of approximately 115 percent runoff volume for the spring in the northern half of the state and as much as 140 percent in southern Utah.

3. Breathe. This winter we have had a total of four air quality alert days compared to 27 last year at this date in time.

4. Improve your circulation. Sit in a hot tub for 30 minutes and then make snow angels.

5. Turn Salt Lake City into Utah's largest terrain park.

6. Increase Utah's population by building families of snowmen.

7. Rev up your engine and go snowmobiling.

8. Snowshoe in Sugarhouse Park.

9. Ski and snowboard at one of Utah's 13 great resorts.

10. Invite your friends and family to come ski Utah. They will thank you.


E-mail: grass@desnews.com