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Jim Steenburgh and the “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth" on Wednesday's Access Utah


Lee Benson of the Deseret News recently wrote a nice profile of Jim Steenburgh, author of “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth.” And with fresh powder on the ground, we thought this a great time to revisit our conversation from November 2014.

Jim Steenburgh says that for many who come to our state, powder is more than snow. It is a way of life. Utah has long claimed to have the greatest snow on Earth—the state itself has even trademarked the phrase. In “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth: Weather, Climate Change, And Finding Deep Powder in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Around the World” (Utah State University Press) Steenburgh investigates Wasatch weather, exposing the myths (the famous “lake effect” is, he says, the most misunderstood Wasatch weather phenomenon) and revealing how and why Utah’s powder lives up to its reputation. (One section of the book is titled “Mother Nature’s Five-Step Plan for a Snowstorm.”)


Steenburgh also examines ski and snowboard regions beyond Utah, serving as a meteorological guide to mountain weather and snow climates around the world. (He investigates Utah’s closest competitor for the “Greatest” title: Japan’s Hokkaido island.) Steenburgh also explores mountain weather, avalanches and snow safety, historical accounts of weather events and snow conditions, and the basics of climate and weather forecasting, and explains what creates the best snow for skiing and snowboarding.



Jim Steenburgh is professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. An avid backcountry and resort skier and creator of the blog Wasatch Weather Weenies, he is an  authority on mountain weather and snowstorms and led the numerical weather prediction team for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. His research on snow, winter storms, and forecasting has been featured by The Weather Channel, New York Times, USA Today, and Salt Lake Tribune.


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.