600" of Snow...But Still in a Drought?
What kind of impact does over 600" of snow have on the greater Salt Lake City community?
Alpha Coffee is headquartered in Cottonwood Heights, Utah at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon and about 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. We are fortunate to have access to some of the best snow in the world for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. Each year over 5 million people visit Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, many during the winter months.
This year has been an epic year for snowfall with over 600" recorded at most of the nearby resorts. The number of powder days...or pow as we like to call it... has been more than we can keep count of, and the conditions have been left many of us forgetting what a groomer run feels like to ride on. While the enjoyment of such an incredible year for snow has left most everyone satisfied, there is much more to the impact of all this than just the activities we enjoy.
Our snowpack impacts so many things in our community and environment, and through our Grounds for Good program we are proud to support several organizations who are leading the charge in efforts to keep Utah safe and beautiful.
One danger that comes with high snowfall and steep mountain terrain is avalanches. In fact, Little Cottonwood Canyon is the most avalanche prone canyons in the country. While the ski resorts and their ski patrols do a great job of keeping guests safe in bounds, the backcountry does not have those same safety measures. Anyone who skies the backcountry must have the proper training along with good information about the current state of the avalanche danger.
The Utah Avalanche Center is the country's premier organization for monitoring the avalanche danger and educating the backcountry adventure seekers about how to stay on top of the snow. Their daily reports provide important information about where the dangers exist and what to avoid. They also teach avalanche safety courses so that people can better identify areas that may pose a risk and what to do should they and their group get caught in an avalanche. Without organizations like the Utah Avalanche Center, we would hear many more stories with tragic endings. Instead, people are able to enjoy these slices of heaven and share some epic tales.
Another EXTREMELY important element of our snowpack is the snowmelt each spring and summer. The eco-system of the Salt Lake Valley is greatly dependent on the Great Salt Lake. In recent years, the Great Salt Lake has reached critically low levels exposing much of the lake bed. This exposure along with the winds through the valley can move toxic substances into the air and throughout the valley which can lead to respiratory issues for many at-risk people. This "brown dust" can even impact the snowpack causing premature melting and interrupting the cycle of snowpack-snowmelt.
Even with an epic snow year like this year, several years of below average snowfall and dry, hot summers have lead to a substantial drought. While we have made a dent in this drought this past winter, we need to have several more above average snowpacks to start making progress on the declining lake levels in the Great Salt Lake.
The Nature Conservancy has become a vital organization in the fight against the disappearing Great Salt Lake. Working with other organizations along with government agencies, they are working to build awareness, develop conservation initiatives, and raise much needed funds to support efforts to restore the lake to the proper levels.
The work of both the Utah Avalanche Center and The Nature Conservancy are important to our hometown of Salt Lake City. They, along with other organizations like the Salt Lake Climber's Alliance and the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, are helping to preserve and protect these wild places that have made Utah one of the most sought after destinations for outdoor recreation in the world.
Your support of Alpha Coffee goes towards helping us continue to support these organizations. We donate 10% of our profits along with LOTS of coffee to keep these organizations fueled and ready for the missions they serve.
To learn more about these organizations and our Grounds for Good program, visit GroundsForGood.org.