Does Destroying Great Salt Lake Mean Destroying Utah Skiing?

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Does Destroying Great Salt Lake Mean Destroying Utah Skiing?

Post by Pat »

---------------------------- Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: Does Destroying Great Salt Lake Mean Destroying Utah Skiing?
From: Pat
Date: Wed, January 25, 2017 7:52 pm MST

Dear John,

I have just finished reading your Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz.

And was reminded that following our Jan 11 meeting, of the 13 RSVP’s for the meeting itself, the regular informal social gathering at Canella’s after the Salt Lake Library closed was also attended by Ellen Birrell, Jim Hutchins and June Taylor.

And when you talked about how you thought the book that had been elected at the beginning of the main meeting as our focus for Feb 8 (“Finders Keepers”) would be a fabulous vehicle for addressing “The Mormon Church Condoning The Wanton Destruction of Great Salt Lake,” Ellen and Jim immediately opined that the Destruction of Great Salt Lake would mean the end of Utah skiing.

Do you agree that Destroying Great Salt Lake (whether or not wantonly) means destroying Utah Skiing?



---------------------------- Original Message -----------------------------
Subject: Re: Does Destroying Great Salt Lake Mean Destroying Utah Skiing?
Date: Thu, January 26, 2017 9:28 pm MST
Bcc: The “To” and “Cc” Addressees Listed Below

To: Pat


Ellen Birrell
Jay Hansen
Marcia Hansen
Jim Hutchins
Martin Gelman
Norm Guice
Ted Gurney
Tucker Gurney
George Kunath
Deb Sawyer
June Taylor
Yours Truly

Dear Pat,

Thank you very much for your e-mail.

And for your “sympathy” e-mail of last week over the demise of Dandy Lion, my 11-year-old Golden Retriever.

The short answer to your question is that it depends on what is meant by “Utah Skiing”!!!


As you are aware, I am quite familiar with ski resorts all over the world. Not only because my other ski house was for many years located at Kitzbuehel Austria (which is only 35 miles from Salzburg so it was also useful during the Summer Festival), but because as someone who has tossed more than 3,000 bouquets to opera stars who can only perform every 3-4 days, I am intimately familiar with every ski resort that lines up with every major European opera house. In addition, when my kids were young, we always split their 2-week winter vacation and their Spring vacation among whatever North American ski resorts had been ranked first, second and third that year by the readership of Ski Magazine.

And yes, Utah license plates do NOT lie!!! Utah DOES have “the world’s best snow”!!!

You’re probably aware that anywhere in the world, prevailing winds come from the west.

And west of Little Cottonwood Canyon (Snowbird – Alta) and Big Cottonwood Canyon (Solitude – Brighton) is Great Salt Lake.

So whenever the wind comes from the west, it picks up water from Great Salt Lake and dumps it in the form of rain/snow on Snowbird – Alta – Solitude – Brighton.

[For purposes of this discussion, I am ignoring the resorts on the other side of the first range of Wasatch Mountains (such as Park City and Deer Valley) because, as you know, atmosphere loses its ability to hold moisture as it rises in altitude which is why all of the world’s great deserts are located on the eastern side of mountain ranges and why Park City and Deer Valley only get 50% of the snowfall enjoyed by Snowbird-Alta.]

As you know, Snowbird-Alta receive on average 500 inches (about 42 feet) of snowfall each season. But occasionally, there is as little as 300 inches or as much as 700 inches.


Yes, “Utah Snow” is world renowned because it is so light.

Which is due to its lack of density (in other words, the high amount of snow relative to its water content).

That lack of density of “Utah Snow,” according to “common wisdom,” is due to the high amount of salt that accompanies water that evaporates from GSL into the prevailingly-western winds and is then dropped in the form of snow on the Wasatch Mountains.

As you know, since like Israel’s Dead Sea GSL has no outlet, it has very high salinity. Indeed, GSL is almost as salty as the Dead Sea, which is approximately 10 times as salty as the earth’s oceans.

I have never heard a scientific explanation for why the salt causes such light, low-density snow. Apparently it is like gravity in the sense that it just is, so scientists have to accept the fact that it just is.

From my extensive experience at most of the world’s major ski resorts (vs. scientific measurement), the light, low-density “Utah snow” has about 50% of the water content of snow found at virtually all of the rest of the world’s major ski resorts.


Alta Ski Resort maintains on its website snow statistics for each day during the ski season going back many years.

For each day, there is recorded (among other things) the depth in inches of new snow, the depth in inches of its water content and (for those of us who can’t divide in our heads) the percentage water density.

We really need a highly-trained meteorologist to tell us what percentage of water that winds up as snow at the Utah Ski Resorts came from GSL and what percentage came from other sources such as the Pacific Ocean.

However, just running my eye over the Alta data, it would appear that about 50% of the snow at the Utah ski resorts comes from GSL, and about 50% comes from other sources, primarily the Pacific Ocean.


Assuming for the sake of illustration that my surmise that 50% of the snow at Utah ski resorts comes from GSL, the implications of the destruction of GSL are easy to conceive.

For example, please assume that Utah is 10 thousand miles from the Pacific Ocean and that there is nothing but desert in the intervening 10 thousand miles.

In other words, that 100% of snow at the Utah ski resorts comes from GSL.

Under such circumstances, the GSL water-snow cycle would resemble one of the world’s great seasonal migrations -- such as birds flocking south for the winter or so-called “Snow Birds” (retired residents of northern states) flocking to Florida for the winter.

The snow at the Utah ski resorts would come from GSL where it would reside for the winter, following which it would melt and flow back into GSL.

In reality, there is superimposed on top of this the water that evaporates from the Pacific Ocean and is dropped on the Wasatch Mountains as rain/snow, and the water that evaporates from GSL/Utah and travels further east to other states.

The latter snow (from sources other than GSL) would still exist even if GSL is wantonly destroyed.

However, that snow would not be light, low-density “Utah Snow” but would be the kind of heavy, high-density snow that plagues the rest of the world’s major ski resorts.

For example, average annual snowfall at Colorado ski resorts is only 306 inches (reference

Though does credit Vail, Colorado’s flagship ski resort and Yours Truly’s favorite North American ski resort decades ago when his kids were growing up, with an above-average 359 inches/season.

So my non-scientific guess is that 306 inches/season of heavy, high-density snow is what the Utah ski resorts would have after the Destruction of GSL.

[BTW, 306 inches/season for the Colorado resorts vs. 500 inches/season for the Utah ski resorts on the “front side” (west facing side) of the Wasatch Mountains, or 60%, is in line with my guess from Alta Ski Resort statistics that 50% of “Utah Snow” comes from GSL.]


The reason why I did not incorporate any of the foregoing information into the Short Quiz (posted Jan 20 on and attached to our Jan 21 weekly e-mail) and its Suggested Answers (posted Jan 24) is that it would NOT have much relevance to our Lawsuit for a Writ of Mandamus against the U.S. Government ordering it to “do its duty” to preserve an essential environmental/ecological national treasure.

After all, it should be clear that the U.S. Government “has a duty” under our environmental-protection laws to preserve essential environmental/ecological national treasures.

And, as discussed at length in the Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz, a Writ of Mandamus is simply a court order to public officials to “do their duty.”

But on the other hand, it would probably NOT be the duty of the U.S. Government, however reprehensible its failure, to maintain the light, low-density “Utah Snow” for Utah ski resorts, rather than subject Utah ski resorts to the heavy, high-density snow that plagues Colorado ski resorts and virtually all of the world’s other major ski resorts.

Thank you again for your e-mail. And my apologies for being too busy to answer it sooner.

Your friend,

John K.

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Re: Does Destroying Great Salt Lake Mean Destroying Utah Ski

Post by UtahOwl »

In addition to the effects on snowfall in the Wasatch, when/if the GSL dries up, Salt Lake City's air quality will become much worse. This is because the west winds that sweep across will pick up all kinds of particulates, some containing toxic elements like arsenic, and dump them into the Salt Lake Valley in dust storms. The increasing particulate load will also hasten the melting of what snowpack does exist in the Wasatch, creating problems with water handling.

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