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Idaho resorts wait for more snow in order to open up for the season

As of December 8, Bogus Basin recorded six inches of snow, Sun Valley had 22 inches, Tamarack had seven inches and Brundage only recorded two inches of snow.

BOISE, Idaho — Contrary to the 2020 winter season, some of Idaho’s ski resorts haven’t announced an opening date yet.

As of December 8, Bogus Basin recorded six inches of snow, Sun Valley had 22 inches, Tamarack had seven inches and Brundage Mountain only recorded two inches of snow.

Brundage Mountain has not released an opening date, due to lack of snow.

“We had a drier October and November than we usually do,” said April Whitney, the communications manager and marketing director for Brundage.

Whitney said the resort relies on natural snowfall, which is posing to be a challenge this season, compared to years past.

“Last year we saw both colder temperatures which allowed us to make a little bit of snow at the base area,” she said.

Tamarack Resort has also not fully opened, but they plan to open their Discovery chairlift seven days a week starting on Saturday, December 11.

“Snowmaking is a really big factor in where we have not really been able to take advantage of that because of the warmer temperatures we need to be in the mid to high 20s to be effective on the snow and the humidity has to be right,” said Scott Turlington, the president of Tamarack.

Although an atmospheric river is ahead, which may bring feet of snow to the mountain areas, meteorologist Jim Duthie said the second La Nina that is occurring, tends to be drier than the first. He added that last year saw near-normal levels of snow pack, but that might not be the case this winter season.

“What we are looking at right now is maybe a little lower snowpack that we would expect this time of year, I noticed the latest numbers for today were turning below normal,” Duthie said.

According to the National Weather Service, December 2020 was the 22nd driest month in the last 157 years, with only 1.7 inches of snow falling the entire month in Boise. The average for the month of December is 5.6 inches.

“The popular phrase is global warming and climate change, suggesting that we are seeing warmer temperatures overall and that has been the case over the last few years and what happens, too, is we don't start seeing our snowpack until later and then it melts off a little bit sooner in the spring as well,” Duthie said.

While both Brundage and Tamarack staff don’t feel like they are opening behind schedule, they would like to not have to rely on natural snow if current weather trends continue.

“It’s not just us here in Idaho, it's everyone, it's industry-wide,” Turlington said.

“We still love our natural snow, our powder storms but adding snow making in the future will allow us to be our own masters of our own destiny,” Whitney said.

Whitney added that Brundage plans to invest in more snow makers in the near future.

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