This year's Christmas season not only put presents under the tree but also produced some of the weirdest weather on record in the Mountain Southwest.
Several Wasatch Mountain resorts opened ahead of schedule after record November snowfall in northern Utah. The newest resort in the Beehive State, Eagle Point nee Elk Meadows-Mount Holly, opened before Christmas for the first time in its 40-year history.
Meanwhile, the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico struggled to attract moisture or keep what snow they could make from melting. Sunrise Ski Park and no-snowmaking Arizona Snowbowl had to wait until Christmas day to open, while Sandia Peak went from nothing to 100 percent open after the only December storm to venture that far south.
Sipapu in northern New Mexico managed to open early but has relied upon one major storm for coverage. New Mexico's Parjarito Mountain, and Arizona's Mount Lemmon and Elk Ridge were all still closed as of Monday (Dec. 27). Angel Fire, Red River, Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe and Ski Apache were open but have been operating primarily on manmade snow surfaces.
Southern Utah bore the brunt of a pre-Christmas storm that first swamped Southern California with floods and debris floes before producing much the same in the Cedar City area. The news was good and bad for both Eagle Point and [R80R, Brian Head resorts above the town of Beaver.
The former endured a three-day closure due to a power outage and closed roads. Management had to rent front loaders from Salt Lake City to clear all the snow, Eagle Point's Jodi Holmgren told OnTheSnow. The good news was snow depths were "off the charts" and the skiing and boarding was some of the best ever seen there, Holmgren said.
Brian Head's Jon Christoffersen reported to OnTheSnow that 57 inches came down in the storm, but heavy winds forced the resort to shut down all but one lift on Dec. 24 and restrict uphill capacity on two other days.
"Many of our lifts run east-west, and the wind came in from the south, which is unusual," Christoffersen said. "But we loved it because now we have great conditions."
This winter's Maginot Line runs pretty much along the southern borders of Utah and Colorado, with north-leaning La Nina blessing the mountains above the line but virtually ignoring the slopes and trails in Arizona and New Mexico.
More information: OnTheSnow Snow Reports.