Rolling In the Deep—the snowiest season On Record.
Eighty-five winters ago, skiers were first drawn to Alta by the promise of powder days. Eighty-five years later we experienced a special winter—one that delivered storm after storm and the continued promise of powder days.
Alta Ski Area received 903 inches of snow this season—the snowiest season in the 43-year history of the Collins Study Plot. Located in Collins Gulch at an elevation of 9,662 feet, the Collins Study Plot began recording daily snowfall observations in 1980 (prior to 1980, the Alta Guard House Study Plot has records dating back to 1944). Seasonal snowfall data starts in October (when settled snow from October is measurable on November 1st) and runs through the end of April.
Alta's Snowiest Seasons On Record
- 2022–23: 903"
- 1981–82: 748"
- 2010–11: 724"
- 1983–84: 708.5"
- 2007–08: 702"
- 2004–05: 697.5"
- 2008–09: 696.5"
- 1982–83: 687"
- 1992–93: 681.5"
- 1997–98: 659.5"
Compared to the 42-year history of the Collins Study Plot, Alta Ski Area received above-average snowfall during all seven months of the 2022–23 season. All of this snow and water made for some incredible skiing, but will also go a long way in replenishing our state’s rivers, reservoirs and the Great Salt Lake when the snow eventually melts.
- 2022–23 Seasonal Snowfall: 903 inches
- 2021–22: 445.5"
- 2020–21: 486.5"
- 2019–20: 542"
- 2018–19: 626"
- 2022–23: 167.8% of Alta's 42-Year Average Snowfall of 538 inches
- 2021–22: 82.8% of average
- 2020–21 = 90.4% of average
- 2019–20 = 100.7% of average
- 2018–19 = 116.3% of average
- 2022–23: 191% of Alta's rolling 10-Year Average Snowfall of 473 inches
- 2021–22: 94.2%
- 2020–21: 102.8%
- 2019–20: 114.6%
- 2018–19: 132.3%
903 inches. What else needs to be said? The record-shattering season saw 68% more snow than the 42-year average of 538 inches and 91% more snow than the 10-year average of 473 inches. Adding a 903-inch season to the records went a long way in correcting a downward snowfall trend in recent seasons. Alta’s 43-year average snowfall is back up to 546 inches. The 10-year average is now 518 inches—almost a 40-inch jump from the 10-year average prior to this winter.
Long after the snow melts, the 2022–23 season and its 903 inches of snow will likely stick around in Alta’s storied and snowy history. Based on the past 43 years of snowfall data and stories from Alta’s 85-year history, it’s unlikely that we see another winter like this in our lifetimes.
- 2022–23 was the snowiest season on record: 903 inches
- 155 inches (20.7%) above the previous record of 748 inches set in 1981–82
- March 2023 was the snowiest single month on record: 229 inches
- 19.5 inches (9.3%) above the previous record of 209.5 inches in December 1983
- On April 5th, 2023, Alta recorded the deepest-ever settled snow depth of 248 inches
- April 3rd, 1983 was the previous deepest settled snow depth during operations: 224 inches
- May 19th, 1983 was the deepest settled snow depth at any point: 236 inches
2022–23 POWDER SKIING PROBABILITIES
The records are great, but how was the skiing? The first snow fell later than usual at Alta Ski Area, as we didn’t see our first snowfall until October 22nd when a series of fall storms blanketed the mountain in white. The snow continued to fall into the first week of November as backcountry skiers enjoyed a couple of weeks of preseason skiing.
Alta Ski Area opened for the season on November 18th with 101 inches of snow already in the books. In the midst of a ten-day snowless stretch that turned out to be the least-snowiest stretch of the season, no one could have predicted the season that was about to play out. A few days after Opening Day, the snow started falling and refused to stop. 156 days and nearly 792.5 inches of snow later, the lifts stopped spinning for the season.
- 156 total ski days during the 2022–23 season
- 2021–22: 153
- 2020–21: 150
- 2019–20: 107 (Covid-19 closure on March 15th)
- 2018–19: 153
- 89 days delivered 1 inch or more of new snow = 57.1% of all ski days
- 2021–22: 59 days = 38.5%
- 2020–21: 66 days = 44%
- 2019–20: 54 days = 50.5%
- 2018–19: 80 days = 52.3%
- 71 days delivered 3 inches or more of new snow = 45.5%
- 2021–22: 36 days = 23.5%
- 2020–21: 41 days = 27.3%
- 2019–20: 41 days = 38.3%
- 2018–19: 53 days = 34.6%
- 54 days delivered 6 inches or more of new snow = 34.6%
- 2021–22: 24 days = 15.7%
- 2020–21: 24 days = 16%
- 2019–20: 23 days = 21.5%
- 2018–19: 41 days = 26.8%
- 32 days delivered 10 inches or more of new snow = 20.5%
- 2021–22: 13 days = 8.5%
- 2020–21: 13 days = 8.7%
- 2019–20: 12 days = 11.2%
- 2018–19: 21 days = 13.7%
- 6 days delivered 20 inches or more of new snow = 3.85%
- 2021–22: 1 day = 0.7%
- 2020–21: 2 days = 1.3%
- 2019–20: 2 days = 1.9%
- 2018–19: 7 days = 4.5%
Over the course of the 156-day season between November 18th and April 23rd, Alta saw at least an inch of new snow on 89 days (57%)—well more than half of the season. The 2022–23 season saw an extra month of new snow days compared to the 2021–22 season (445.5 inches).
An “Alta Inch” can go a long way in softening up some turns, but this figure isn’t far off from the 80 one-plus-inch days of the 626-inch 2018–19 season. The separation between two above-average seasons can be found when we bump up to three-plus inches. This season provided 71 days of at least three inches of new snow. The 2018–19 (626 inches) season reported 53 such days.
Between November 18th and April 23rd, Alta Ski Area received 792.5 inches over 156 days—an average of 5.1 inches per day.
Six inches of new snow can make for an above-average day of skiing, and the 2022–23 season recorded 54 days with at least six inches of snow—six more six-plus-inch powder days than we saw in the previous two winters combined.
A ten-plus-inch powder day is what powder skiers dream of during the hot summer months. And this season delivered the goods 32 times—that's more than a month of knee-deep powder days! Approximately 20% of the season delivered at least a 10-inch powder day or one out of every five days. The prior three seasons combined for 38 such days.
Last but not least, this 2022–23 season experienced six days with at least twenty inches of snow—more than the previous three seasons combined, but one less than the 2018–19 season. Twenty inches is a lot of snow in a 24-hour period and can lead to an unforgettable day of skiing. It can also mean that Highway 210 is closed, the lifts stop spinning and you spend your day Interlodged or unable to get up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Out of the six 20-plus-inch days this season, Alta Ski Area was unable to open twice and closed early on another due to an increasing avalanche hazard.
Early Mornings By-the-Numbers
903 inches of snow is a lot of snow—68% more than an already-snowy average Alta winter and more than double the total snowfall during the 2021–22 season. The skiing was incredible. The powder days were non-stop. The snow was relentless. Each storm brought the promise of powder days, but also early morning avalanche mitigation efforts, endless digging out, and the potential for extended road closures and Town of Alta Interlodge orders.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the record-breaking behind-the-scenes stats from this 903-inch season:
- 98 avalanches hit Highway 210
- 62 avalanches were greater than D3 in size—large enough to bury a vehicle or destroy a wood-frame house
- 73 of the 98 avalanches occurred between March 1st and April 24th
- 50 early mornings for Alta Ski Patrol avalanche mitigation
- 1,000 pounds of bacon cooked in the Buckhorn employee kitchen
- 300 pounds of coffee brewed in the Buckhorn employee kitchen
- 31 overnight Highway 210 closures
- 10 all-day Highway 210 closures
- 9 mid-day Highway 210 closures
- 5 days Alta Ski Area was unable to open
- 4 partial "country club" days when Alta Ski Area opened and Highway 210 remained closed for the morning
- 6 all-day "country club" days when Alta Ski Area opened and Highway 210 remained closed for the day
A 903-inch season will not only be remembered for the powder days but also for the early mornings, long days and sleepless nights as the never-ending storm train rolled through Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Thanks to the dedication of Alta Ski Area employees, employees of the local lodges, Snowbird’s staff, UDOT and everyone in our wonderful community for digging deep and rolling with the punches this winter. We took everything Mother Nature threw our way and managed to stay safe and keep skiing.
Lastly, thanks to our skiers for your patience this winter. While we all enjoyed being a part of the deepest season on record, we know it required a lot from our skiers.
As we turn our focus toward the 2023–24 season, we have no idea what Mother Nature has in store for us. So, we'll just keep praying for snow and digging out in between storms. After all, it's a ritual that's worked for 85 winters, why change now?
2022–23 Season By-the-Month
- October | 37.5 inches >
- November | 85.5 inches >
- December | 163 inches >
- January | 186 inches >
- February | 110 inches >
- March | 229 inches >
- April | 92 inches >
It seems like a distant memory, but the 2022–23 season got off to a slow start. We’re used to seeing our first flakes in September or early October, but this fall saw warm and dry weather through most of October. Alta didn’t receive its first measurable snow until October 22nd.
October 23rd: A snowy morning following a two-foot storm—our first snow of the season | Photos: Rocko Menzyk
That first storm of the season delivered a couple of feet of snow, the beginning of a snowy pattern that would drop 37.5 inches of snow by the end of the month. October 2022 was only the fourth-snowiest October in the past decade, but 42% above our 42-year average for the month.
The first week of November delivered two big storms followed by almost three weeks of high pressure. Temperatures stayed cold and the snowmakers worked around the clock to prepare Alta Ski Area for our Opening Day on November 18th.
November 28th: Sam Cohen enjoys some deep snow | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
Alta Ski Area opened for the season on November 18th with 101 inches of snow. Another storm cycle delivered two more feet of snow to close out the month. In total, November 2022 saw 83.5 inches of snow—the snowiest November in the past decade and 20% more snow than we typically see in November.
The storm train barreled straight into December. A series of storms battered Little Cottonwood Canyon from every direction, varying in wind direction, duration and density.
December 5th: Quinn Wolferman surfing some higher-density pow | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
From December 1st through the 7th, a series of storms rolled through Alta after passing through California. These wetter, warmer systems set down a solid base of 9–11%-density snow. The final wave of the storm cycle saw 5.5 inches of 5%-density snow—a little Alta Magic that made for some incredible skiing.
December 13th: Rob Lowe enjoys a Deepcember day | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
Actor Rob Lowe—who has been skiing Alta and Snowbird since 1976—made a surprise visit to Alta in the middle of December. Forecasts called for 14-21 inches of snow. Four days later, 70.5” of snow had fallen from just 2.9 inches of water—an astonishing 4.1% average density. This "Lowe Pressure System" was the fourth-biggest storm total in the past two decades at Alta.
December 29th: Anna Marno dives into a deep bluebird powder day | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
Another round of storms shortly after Christmas delivered an additional 28 inches of snow. The storm moved on from Little Cottonwood Canyon and the sun came out for a classic Alta bluebird powder with two feet of powder.
December 30th: Buried cars in the Wildcat lot | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
As we approached the final days of 2022, an atmospheric river event dropped 37 inches of snow from 4.73 inches of water, 12.8% density snow that resembles the maritime snowfall of the Sierras or Cascade Ranges. It was a wet and wild end to 2022.
December 2022 was the third-snowiest December in the past 43 years—eclipsing the 143.5 inches of snow in DeepCember 2021.
The storm train barreled full steam ahead as we kicked off the new year. In fact, the New Year’s Eve storm delivered so much snow, water and wind, that Alta Ski Area and Highway 210 were unable to open on New Year’s Day. The Town of Alta celebrated the New Year with a full-day Interlodge, as lodge guests, residents and Alta employees were unable to go outside due to the threat of avalanches. The Utah Department of Transportation's (UDOT) avalanche mitigation work yielded some impressive slides in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
January 3rd & 4th: Katie Hitchcock and a Town of Alta building both get buried | Photos: Chloe Jimenez
Despite the one-day closure, the snow kept falling and the snowbanks grew taller. Another storm took aim at Alta Ski Area as the first week of 2023 came to a close. This storm dropped another two feet of snow and another series of road closures and Interlodge orders—but also some incredible storm skiing and another bluebird powder day.
January 6th: Davis Lentz checks snow depth in the Westward Ho trees | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
January 7th: An Alta local enjoys a bluebird powder day on the Backside | Photo: Photo-John
Another storm cycle dropped 39 inches of snow in two days between January 10th–11th. The Town of Alta went into Interlodge at 9pm on January 11th. Avalanche mitigation produced some big slides that again buried sections of Highway 210. Unlike New Year's Day, the weather cleared and Alta Ski Area was able to open Wildcat and Collins lifts for the hundreds of lodge guests, local residents and employees that had spent the night in the Town of Alta. While UDOT worked to clear the road, some lucky skiers got to experience the Alta Country Club—a rare phenomenon when the highway is closed and skiers get to enjoy a powder day to themselves.
January 11th: Alta Country Club day | Photo: Alta Mountain Cams
January 14th–18th saw a five-day storm that delivered five feet of new snow, bringing our January snowfall totals to 147 inches. Just 19 days into the month, snowfall totals were already 160% of average snowfall for the month of January—the fourth-consecutive above-average month to start the season.
January 16th: Freeride World Tour champion, Maxime Chabloz, charges through 50-plus inches of snow | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
January 18th: Ted Battesh digs out the Collins snow stake cam | Photo: Jonathan Morgan
January 19th: Dani Laird stands in awe of the growing snowbanks of Alta | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
On January 25th, a surprise nine-inch powder day pushed our season snowfall total to 445 inches—officially the deepest start to the season (October through January 31st) in the 43-year history of the Collins Study Plot.
January 25th: Troy Tully dives into a surprise nine-inch storm that set a new October–January snowfall record | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
January 30th: Willie Nelson enjoys the final snowfall of a snowy, snowy January | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
The final week of January welcomed another 37 inches of snow. In total, Alta received 186 inches of snow in January—the snowiest January and (at the time) the second-snowiest single month in the 43-year history of the Collins study plot behind the 209.5 inches of snow in December 1983.
Another two feet of snow fell during the first week of February—including a 21-inch storm between February 5th and 6th. Cold temperatures and multiple days of terrain openings provided some incredible skiing conditions.
February 7th: Alta skiers enjoy a Ballroom rope drop on bluebird powder day | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
A five-inch storm on Valentine's Day pushed Alta's season-to-date snowfall over the 500-inch mark—the earliest date to surpass 500 inches.
February 14th: 500 inches and counting | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
A cold midwinter storm on February 21st and 22nd delivered another two feet of snow and some incredible powder skiing. The storm also increased Alta's season-to-date snowfall total to 533 inches—surpassing the 1992–93 season as the snowiest October–February stretch in the 43-year history of the Collins Study Plot.
February 22nd: John Brown skis two feet of February fluff | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
February 23rd: Jenna Henry enjoys some above-average skiing | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
The final week of February was another snowy one. Almost 50 inches of snow fell during the week, pushing Alta's season-to-date snowfall well past our 42-year season average of 538 inches. In total, 110 inches of snow fell during the month of February—the fifth consecutive above-average month to start the 2022–23 season.
March 2023 got off to a roaring start as five feet of snow fell in the first week. On Saturday, March 4th, Alta surpassed the 600-inch mark for the season.
March 6th: Jazz Vitale celebrates reaching the 600-inch mark | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
A 10-inch storm on March 7th and 8th bumped Alta's season-to-date total above 650 inches—just the 10th season to reach that mark in the past 43 years. And only one of those seasons (1981–82) saw 650 inches of snow by the end of March (682 inches).
March 9th: Reily Gibson enjoys yet another bluebird powder day | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
An atmospheric river event delivered 16 inches of snow from two inches of water between March 14th and 15th. The warmer temperatures led to snow densities in the 13% range for the storm. The new snow was dense, but it guaranteed a sixth consecutive month of above-average snowfall at Alta.
March 15th: Katie Hitchcock revels in another deep powder day | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
Fittingly for the 2022–23 season, the snow continued even as winter has technically turned to spring. Between March 19th and 20th, a cold winter storm dropped 14.5 inches of snow. The sun came out for a morning of bluebird powder skiing on the first full day of spring. A few hours later, another storm made its way up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
March 21st: Taylor Pratt enjoys a spring bluebird powder morning | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
The first few days of spring saw nearly three feet of snow, moving Alta's season-to-date snowfall past the 700-inch mark for the first time since 2010–11 (724 inches). The 2022–23 season had moved into elite territory as only five seasons in the past 43 years had reached 700 inches of snowfall. None of those previous seasons reached 700 inches before April.
March 22nd: Sydney Ricketts searching for the flake that put us over 700 inches | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
Shortly after crossing the 700-inch mark, another wave of snow took aim at Little Cottonwood Canyon. On March 24th, 25 inches of snow fell in a 24-hour period—including one hour that witnessed five inches of snow in sixty minutes. The new snow was simply too much for Alta Ski Area, Snowbird and Highway 210 to remain open.
Around 2pm on March 25th, the lifts closed and everyone in Little Cottonwood Canyon was instructed to make their way indoors for a mid-day Interlodge. The Interlodge order was in place for four hours as UDOT performed avalanche mitigation above the Town of Alta and Highway 210. An avalanche in the White Pine slide path buried a football field-wide section of Highway 210 under 15 feet of debris. UDOT was able to clear the debris, Highway 210 reopened and skiers slowly made their way out of Little Cottonwood Canyon. With skiers still making their way home after a long day, Interlodge went back into effect around midnight.
March 24th: Thorn Merrill skis through the storm before a mid-day Interlodge | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
Early in the morning of March 25th, Alta Ski Area reported 749 inches of season-to-date snowfall—surpassing 1981–82 (748 inches) as the snowiest season on record. This record-breaking storm didn't stop there, as a total of 66.5 inches of snow fell over five days.
March 30th: Ana Eyssimont bops through yet another March powder day | Photo: Chloe Jimenez
On the morning of March 31st—in the midst of a 40-plus inch storm cycle—Alta Ski Area surpassed 800 inches for the season. The 800th inch of snow would not be skied, as Highway 210 and Alta Ski Area were unable to open on the final day of a very snowy month.
With 229 inches of snow, March 2023 was the snowiest single month in the 43-year history of the Collins Study Plot. Historically, March is Alta Ski Area's snowiest month, averaging 93.6 inches of snow over the past 42 seasons. March 2023 saw a staggering 244% of Alta's average snowfall for the month.
Not fooling around, April 1st started under another Highway 210 road closure and Town of Alta Interlodge order. Alta Ski Area opened around noon on April 1st, and Alta skiers were able to enjoy a couple of days of bluebird powder skiing as the next series of storms approached Little Cottonwood Canyon. On the heels of a record-breaking month, it wouldn't take much new snow or wind to upset an overloaded snowpack in Alta Ski Area or the 50 slide paths above Highway 210.
April 1st: Theodore Mathieu wasn't fooling around when Interlodge lifted and Ballroom opened | Photo: Photo-John
On Sunday evening, April 2nd, Highway 210 closed and the Town of Alta went under Interlodge order. A foot of new snow fell overnight during the first wave of a multi-day storm system. UDOT Avalanche crews kept the highway closed between the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Snowbird's Entry One. Alta Ski Area and Snowbird completed avalanche mitigation and a few hundred skiers—lodge guests, local residents and employees—were able to enjoy a day of powder skiing at the Alta Country Club. The lifts stopped spinning around 3pm and the Town of Alta was under Interlodge restrictions by 8pm on April 3rd.
The second, stronger wave of the storm delivered an additional 51 inches of new snow. At some point on April 4th, Alta Ski Area surpassed the 850-inch mark for the season—seeing more than 100 inches of snow in the ten days since breaking the seasonal snowfall record on March 25th.
April 5th: Little Cottonwood Canyon buried in snow and avalanche debris | Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety via Brian Schnee
The massive snowstorm directly on the heels of March's historic snowfall created its fair share of challenges. Due to ongoing avalanche mitigation, Alta Ski Area was closed on April 4th and 5th. The storm finally broke, the sun came out and Interlodge was briefly lifted on the afternoon of April 5th in order to start the digging-out process.
April 5th: Employees work to locate and extract their vehicles following a 66.5-inch storm | Photo: Emily Golitzin
Alta Ski Area and neighboring Snowbird were able to open on Thursday, April 6th. With Highway 210 still closed, skiers enjoyed another Alta Country Club Day—the second in four days. Around 1pm, a natural avalanche occurred on a south-facing slope off Mt. Superior that crossed Highway 210. Fortunately, no skiers were caught in the slide. Unfortunately, Country Club Day was over and efforts to clear snow from Highway 210 were put on hold.
At 5am on April 7th, a downhill-only convoy of vehicles was finally able to their way out of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Between Sunday, April 2nd, and Friday, April 7th, Highway 210 between the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Snowbird was closed for 103 consecutive hours.
April 9th: Jenni Curtis Shafer inspects a snowbank at the top of Sugarloaf lift | Photo: Photo-John
Over the Easter weekend, Alta, Snowbird and UDOT worked together to provide some skiing by opening Highway 210 in the mornings and evenings when the threat of wet slides diminished. Skiers arrived at Alta before a 9am road closure, skied all day, tailgated or dined in the lodge restaurants, watched the sunset then made their way home once Highway 210 reopened. It was yet another unusual experience in a very unusual season.
After almost five months of stormy weather, the snowy weather pattern finally broke and spring returned to Alta. While we fully embrace spring skiing at Alta—sunny days filled with slush bumps, groomer laps and goggle tans—the rapid warming cycle wreaked havoc on the historically-deep snowpack. Highway 210 was closed between the morning of April 10th and the evening of April 13th due to rising temperatures. Alta Ski Area was able to spin a few lifts for the lodge guests, local residents and employees of Alta between April 10th and 12th. Temperatures finally cooled off by Thursday afternoon, Alta Ski Area remained closed for the day, but Highway 210 finally reopened.
April 17th: Sierra Swan makes the most of a rare non-snowy spring day | Photo: Rocko Menzyk
Alta Ski Area and Highway 210 returned to normal operations for the season's final week. After a few days of sunshine and warm temps, another round of spring storms dropped almost a foot of snow, guaranteeing a seventh-consecutive month of above-average snowfall. The new snow also provided Alta skiers with closing weekend powder turns—a very fitting end to the snowiest season on record.
April 23rd: An Alta local sends the season out in style | Photo: Photo-John
Following a postcard Closing Day, Alta Ski Area employees enjoyed a well-earned Employee Appreciation Day on Collins lift. To no one's surprise, it started snowing again. In the early hours of Tuesday, April 25th, the Collins Study Plot recorded the 900th inch of snow since October 22nd. The 900-inch mark is a truly staggering milestone in a season of record-breaking snowfall. It's a season none of us will soon forget.
April 25th: Jonathan Morgan of Alta's Avalanche Office—who tracked every inch of snow since October 22nd—points to the exact flake that put the Collins study plot over the 900-inch mark | Photo: Adam Fehr
Alta Ski Area's official seasonal snowfall recording ended on April 30th with 903 inches of snow. The 2022–23 season was the snowiest on record, shattering the previous record of 748 inches during the 1981–82 season by a staggering 155 inches.
Between the first snow on October 22nd and April 30th, Alta received an average of 4.7 inches of snow per day.