New Weather Content Featuring ON MOUNTAIN data…

Coming soon to every mountain… (We’ll make this happen somehow!)

Regular viewers to this website already know that we’ve been making some noise about providing more and more interactive and helpful content on this website and network. One of the most important bits of data that we can provide to viewers is that of accurate weather and temperature readings FROM the resort or ski area that they’re interested in visiting.

It is fairly widely known that most all of the nationally, well-known weather resources actually display weather content that is not actually ON or in some cases all that near the actual mountain that you’re interested in. For example, if you had searched Weather.com at 1:43pm on Thursday for Wintergreen Resort’s weather, you’d have seen that they were showing the current temperature as 72°. Our HighCountryWeather.com Wintergreen Resort page was reflecting a current temperature of 54.4° and Wintergreen Resort’s own website was showing the temperature at that time on the mountain as 52°.

There’s no question that THE MOST ACCURATE reading was that of Wintergreen’s. As close as we are currently pulling data from – we were still off by 2.4°. Of course Weather.com’s temp of 72° was off by 20°!!!

When it comes to winter weather – the difference in rain or snow is often less than a degree or two. Imagine if someone was planning to visit Wintergreen this weekend and was looking at Weather.com’s data…they’d have probably packed their tennis rackets and golf clubs – or changed their minds about going.

I remember a few years ago when our buddy Joe Stevens had a direct line to The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and he used it often because the Atlanta based weather pros would often be displaying a large green blob over the entire state of West Virginia (signifying rain). It would often be bombing snow and Joe would advise Cantore of that fact. I remember Joe sharing comments like, "Brother you guys have GOT to paint a white circle over us because it might be raining down in Slatyfork (the foot of the mountain) but it’s snowing like crazy up here!"

One of the toughest things that ski areas and even websites like ours fight is to get the message out that it isn’t as warm as some agencies are reporting that it is up here at our higher elevations.

IF WE GET OUR WAY – THAT WILL BE A THING OF THE PAST

Some or most of the resorts now feature relatively accurate to real-time current temperatures on their websites, however a lot of people pay much more attention to the national and regional television meteorologists who are often covering the regional or statewide maps with a blanket of temperatures that are often substantially off what the actual temperatures are on top of the mountains of our ski areas.

There’s no question that television viewership trumps all of the ski area’s websites and our network of ski coverage, weather and webcams websites put together times whatever number you’d like plug into the equation.

One industry marketing rep told me on Thursday, "That’s probably our biggest battle. We continually have to work towards keeping the television markets informed of what’s happening at the resort because if we’re not in constant contact they fall prey to thinking things are melting away when actually we’ve still got lots of great coverage on the mountain."

Appalachian Ski Mountain, for example, has from 5.5 to 9 FEET of snow on their 12 trails. Sugar is reporting 4 to 8 feet of snow across their 20 trails. Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is boasting an average of nearly five feet of snow across trhe 59 trails they have open this weekend.

However when potential visitors see inaccurate temperature readings like the example that we provided for Wintergreen Resort…it can actually alter whether or not a trip to the mountains takes place. Even this morning as I finished this story, another, well-respected, national weather website is showing Wintergreen’s temperature at 8am as 64°. According to our HighCountryWeather.com and Wintergreen’s own station – it is 50°. I can assure you that snow melts a whole lot quicker at 64° and 72° than it does at 50°.

HighCountryWeather.com Has a Plan…

This past November we took the first step in creating a weather network that will take our mountain’s real time weather data to the region’s television audience. HighCountryWeather.com released a new design and station implementation that is currently pulling data from independent reporting stations on or much closer to the mountains of our region. We’ve recently taken two more steps towards our goal of delivering real-time weather data FROM the mountains themselves. We installed two more Davis Weather Stations with real-time data logging.

Hawksnest Resort / Seven Devils Station is LIVE at: http://www.highcountryweather.com/weather-hawksnest.php  

We’re now able to pull data from up atop Seven Devils that includes not only the current temperature, but we’re able to show you the highs, lows, wind chills, winds and wind gusts and rainfall all in one convenient location. These station pages will also display any live cams that we might have on the mountain as well as 5 day forecast and additional content that should be helpful in planning your getaway.

We have it as one of our top goals over this summer to gain access to this same data for every ski area mountain in our area of coverage. In addition to having one of the best television meteorologists in the region in Brad Panovich of NewsChannel 36 in Charlotte as our official weather partner, we’ve added Kenny Griffin, who recently obtained a degree in Meteorology from UNC Charlotte to our in-house team. One of Kenny’s top duties will be to nurture and grow our relationships with the 60+ television stations of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic to provide them with whatever access that need or desire in the form of gaining access and control of the webcams and weather data.

We think that nothing will replace the ability to actually see what’s happening on the mountains of our region.

Since debuting the new website in late October 2010, we’ve seen traffic soar 700% in just the first three months. As soon as the season comes to an end in late March we will begin to implement our weather content onto the ski area display pages on SkiSoutheast.com to bring better, on-mountain content to our own pages. We’ll also be working with each mountain to acquire as many as possible to be a part of our weather network.

We have already spoken with many of our television partners and every single one that we’ve contacted is excited about being able to gain access to the cams and dedicated weather content. Once that is fully in place, we’ll stay in constant contact to make sure that the media off the mountain knows what is happening ON THE MOUNTAIN. When that happens maybe Joe Stevens can take Jim Cantore off of his auto dial list.

Probably not…

Feel free to email me your thoughts at [email protected]  

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.