Some funny business going on!

This morning in an alternate story on SkiSoutheast.com, we questioned about Timberline Resort’s weird reporting of 38" of snow thus far. That wouldn’t be so weird except that yesterday they reported 28" and they had no snow yesterday! The reason for bringing it up here on SkiNC.com is that we’d like to see all resorts measure snowfall the same way.

Here’s the bulk of the story featured on SkiSoutheast.com:

Ask and ye shall receive. I questioned Timberline’s report of 38" of natural snowfall this morning and it has spiked a number of messageboard entries. There’s some debate ongoing, but suffice to say the tally is not accurate. Skiing is believing, so if anyone out their can be our eyes for Timberline and closeby resorts, we’d love to hear from you.

On the Subject of Natural Snowfall Reporting We have long maintained that it would be wonderful if all resorts used an accurate method for measuring the amount of natural snowfall. There is no question, because I have seen it happen firsthand, that one resort will report 5" of snow and another resort, which had ALREADY CALLED IN 3" would call back and say something like, "Damn there’s no way that XYZ resort had 5" but if they’re claiming it…put me down for five as well."

Thankfully most resorts are not like that, but when ONE does it…

I was speaking with a guy the other day when we got a couple of inches of snow and he said that he had 8 inches in his yard and then I replied jokingly that he sounded like me. I am a notorious snowlover and been known to shrink a ruler occasionally. He the adjusted his snowtotal by saying, "Yea, I LOVE snow, I guess if I got out here with a ruler, we probably really have about five inches or so." Of course he followed up by saying, "I don’t know, I’m sitting here looking out my window and I’d bet we have six inches at least in some parts of the yard."

That’s the way it is for us snow lovers. I’m sure a lot of YOU out there can relate to that. HOWEVER, when you are IN the snow business, and when people depend on you for accurate data to plan expensive excursions to the mountains, etc. IT BECOMES IMPERATIVE TO STATE THE FACTS.

The fact is God is not going to spread the exact same amount of snow on all resorts all of the time. Sometimes, although rare, the Southern resorts get more snow than those further north.

It might be a surprise to a lot of you guys reading this, that our MOST REQUESTED EMAIL QUESTION is NOT about trail conditions. It’s NOT about how many slopes are open. People can see that on the slope conditions pages. The most often asked question is something like, "I heard it’s snowing in the mountains. Where’s the best place to see some snow? My kids have never seen snow and I want them to see it."

The truth is if we answered back that XYZ Ski Area has about TWO INCHES of natural snow on the ground, THEY WOULD LOVE IT. However, if we report that XYZ Ski Area has 38" of natural snow on the ground in the last week, they would be hugely disappointed to drive six hours or so "only" to find 12". It’s all about the perspective. Snow is snow and we all love it…no matter how much is on the ground.

Our Christmas Wish If we could see only ONE thing change in the ski industry it would be for ALL ski areas to measure and report their base depths the same way, and for ALL ski areas to use the NOAA methodology for measuring snow. Okay, that was two things, but related. We’ll save the base depths subject for another day!

In a nutshell the NOAA guidelines state, "Measuring the water equivalent of snowfall since the previous day’s observation. This measurement is taken once-a-day at your specified time of observation. Melt the contents of your gauge (by bringing it inside or adding a measured amount of warm water) and then pour the liquid into the funnel and smaller inner measuring tube and measure the amount to the nearest .01 inch (use NWS provided measuring stick) just as you use for measuring rainfall. Do not measure the melted precipitation directly in the large 8-inch outer cylinder. Make sure the inner measuring tube can’t fall over when pouring the liquid back into it. If the melted water equivalent (including any added warm water) exceeds two inches and cannot fit into the measuring tube all at one time, then empty the full measuring tube and pour the remaining liquid from the large 8-inch outer cylinder into the emptied measuring tube. Then, add and record the water equivalent of the multiple measurements. If you added warm water to the gauge to melt the snow, make sure you accurately measure the amount of warm water added before pouring it into the gauge. Then, when you take your liquid measurement, subtract the amount of warm water added from the total liquid measurement to get your final liquid water equivalent of the snowfall."

While it all sounds scientific…it is VERY easy to do, and VERY reliable. The complete methodolgy can be seen by: Clicking Here

Let us know YOUR thoughts about this by emailing us at Mail@SkiSoutheast.com

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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.