December 19, 2022

Winter Wonderland of Snow: Here's hoping for a healthy snowpack

Snowy old main

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know before the drought.

It has been a while since we’ve seen this amount of snow this early in December. I’m the crazy person who still gets a little excited to see snow on the ground. However, I’m not excited about bundling up and freezing when I go outside or slipping on a patch of ice in the parking lot.

The snow is a sign that the crop harvest is in, the cattle are down from the mountain range and the fall plantings are in the ground.

December can be hectic with all the holiday activities: surviving Black Friday, finding time for Christmas parties and socials with extended family and colleagues and even school recitals. It can be stressful making everything work, but I’ll still squeeze in a viewing of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”

Many of us are like the character of Thomas Waverly — the film’s retired Army Major General turned lodge owner — optimistically watching the weather forecast and hoping for the snowpack.

Is it a good sign this year that the local ski resorts opened on Dec. 7 and 8, depending on if you are a season pass holder? I’m sure the snowmobilers are getting revved up for plenty of snow in the mountains. The cross-country ski people are anticipating groomed trails up Green Canyon.

My youngest son said he’s excited to go snowshoeing. My wife is hopeful for the ever-elusive ice rink at Merlin Olsen Park — it’s a good thing we have an indoor ice rink to skate year-round in the valley.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources even announced the return of sleigh rides this year at Hardware Ranch. Even if you don’t like the snow, you are most likely hoping for a good snowpack this year.

You can track the snow conditions in the West on the USDA SNOTEL Sensor Data. You can quickly zoom in on the map and click on weather stations to view data.

As I’m writing this, the snowpack for the Tony Grove area is 146% of normal for this time of year. The Temple Fort station is 165% of normal. The Garden City Summit is 140% of normal. The Utah Climate Center webpage,, has more stations around Utah and some great resources to track the snowpack, streamflow and evapotranspiration.

We are currently above the snow levels from the past two years, but will it continue? Agriculture producers are anxious to see what the snowpack will be, and what that will mean for irrigation for the summer of 2023.

New Year’s is that time for resolution and goal setting. It’s also a time when we can catch our breath and look back at what we have accomplished over the past year. Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Maybe we fell short of goals or totally forgot the goals we set. After every activity I take a moment to ask myself: What did I like the best? What would I do differently next time?

If you set goals for yourself, hopefully you set what is called a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goal. Don’t get discouraged if the goal doesn’t work.

As a youth leader I attended a leadership training where we set three goals to finish in three months. At the end we mailed back a form explaining the results. Many of the youth didn’t return the results because they failed to meet the goal. They didn’t realize they only needed to report on the outcome of the goal, good or bad.

When setting goals, we cannot see what lies before us in the future and the obstacles that may arise. The obstacle may be the new goal placed before you — like a drought.

Writer: Justin Clawson


Justin Clawson

Cache County Extension office