iResort App - Open Snow and Powder Day Predictions for Summit County, Colorado
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Open Snow and Powder Day Predictions for Summit County, Colorado

 

Joel Gratz is a regular celebrity to Colorado skiers and snowboarders, which is pretty unusual for a data-junkie meteorologist! Amy Kemp hosted a winter kick-off at her co-working space Elevate in Frisco, Colorado last week with Joel as the headline speaker. So what did he share?

Growth of a Business

It’s been a joy watching Joel’s business grow from a fledgling idea in 2007 to a strong business today with nearly 2 million names on his email newsletter list, an app, a website, and corporate sponsorships and advertisers anxious to reach those snow sports followers. Joel now has 7 forecasters covering Colorado, Utah, Tahoe, Mammoth, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and soon to add the Northeast. He has a small staff including a technical expert, a weather and operations specialist, and a business development and sales guy. He shared the keys to his success has been to know weather, skiing, and to be a good writer. In 2017, he hopes to develop an ambassador program to layer in more local content and organize snow reports contextually.

Powder Quest

The Saturday night of Joel’s presentation launched us into the beginning of our December 2016 “atmospheric river” of fantastic snowfall blessing Breckenridge with 8” and Arapahoe Basin with 18” of fresh powder the following morning. Coincidence? Joel and the audience were pretty excited by his forecast considering the dry early season we’d been not-so-patiently coping with. Some JG insight:

·       The “water year” starts October 1st so all comparisons to prior years’ snowfall relates to water averages from October through September, not the calendar year.

·       The snow stakes used by the resorts to report snow totals are not necessarily representative of the snow across the whole mountain given the vast differences across each resort but are consistent from year to year, month to month, and day to day.

·       There are only 2 data sources for snow totals, and they are all submitted from the resorts themselves when they report at 5 AM. They are kept honest by the snow stake cams.

·       Colorado has 75 Snotel http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/ (Snow Telemetry precipitation sensors) around the state – but only Vail, Copper Mountain, and Loveland Basin have nearby sensors measuring both the height and weight of the snow with the purpose of estimating water content and therefor water runoff.

·       Snowfall typically translates into a resort base at a rate of about 3x, for example 30” of snow will compact to a settled base of 10”.

·       Moisture content of snow varies – with an average 15 to 1 ratio, and champagne powder more like a 20 to 1 ratio creating that light, blow in your face powder.

·       An all-access Open Snow pass is a mere $19/year and essential for avid snow sports fans. Use code 726MYX for $5 off at https://opensnow.com and follow Open Snow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/findopensnow/

 

  

Global Warming and Local Weather Trends

Joel has put some serious hours into analyzing the Colorado and local weather trends from data over the past 30 years. His conclusions?

·       There is no change in precipitation trends over time

·       Dillon temperatures are trending up 2 degrees

·       Hoosier Pass is tending up 3 degrees

·       Colorado as a whole is trending up 2 degrees

·       The trend predicts temperatures will increase 1-5 degrees over the next 50 years

·       The increasing temperature trend will likely result in a shorter ski season with earlier snow melt,        and overall could exacerbate drought conditions

·       Check out the Climate Change in Colorado Reports Executive Summary from 2014 for more information (download here) http://wwa.colorado.edu/climate/co2014report/

 

 

 

December 21, 2016 at 08:06 PM
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