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Book review: 'Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth' puts Utah's claim to the test

"SECRETS OF THE GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH," by Jim Steenburgh, Utah State University Press, $21.95, 169 pages (nf)

Utah has long claimed to have "The Greatest Snow on Earth." Jim Steenburgh puts the state of Utah's claim of having the best snow to the test in his recently published book, “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth."

Steenburgh, who is a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, helped lead the weather prediction team for the 2002 Winter Olympics. His research has been featured by the Weather Channel and other national publications such as The New York Times and USA Today.

In “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth,” Steenburgh describes the difference between powder and heavy, wet snow, and why the former is so sought after by skiers and snowboarders. He includes an informative description of lake effect and shares why it is unique in Utah and how it creates such light, powdery snow in the Salt Lake area.

The book goes into detail about what causes avalanches, their history in Utah and the historical and modern methods used to control them. Included are tips and recommendations for skiers and snowboarders who choose to venture into the backcountry on how to stay safe.

Steenburgh compares Utah’s snow to snow from around the country and world, from Europe to South America and Japan to New Zealand. This further illustrates just how unique the snow is in Utah.

Both Steenburgh's scholarly expertise and his experience as an avid skier help make his book about weather a page-turner. “Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth” is interesting and informative.

The personal experiences of the author, coupled with his commentary and mixed with a handful of local stories, work to humanize the information and make what could have been a book enjoyed only by those who love anything about meteorology accessible and entertaining for the layman and casual reader.

“Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth” does not include any swearing, violence or sexual content.

If you go ...

What: Jim Steenburgh presentation and book signing

When: Tuesday, Dec. 2, 12:15 p.m.

Where: S.J. Quinney College of Law, 332 S. 1400 East


Boanerges Lewis is a student at the University of Utah, a lover of reading and in search of all that is entertaining and interesting in our world. His email is