Hello Everyone –
There are a number of skiers and snowboarders out there that blame the resorts for over estimating the true punch or outcome of an approaching winter storm. Many times you will read on the resort’s weather page that snowfall accumulation will be upwards to a foot and when the snow settles, maybe an inch or two of fresh snow is on the ground. The first to receive the blame for the “so called” misinformation are the personnel in the resort’s marketing department. I am here to say this week that finger needs to be pointed in a different direction.
In my 20 plus years in the ski industry I know of only one case where a resort had a certified meteorologist on staff and that was because he liked to ski and took a job one winter in the resort’s Public Relations department. With that in mind, the majority of the resorts rely on outside weather forecasting services to make plans for snowmaking and to provide forecasts on their snow reports. For the most part these services do a decent job in providing a forecast that is in the range of reality of plus or minus five degrees. The area where the services have the most challenge is predicting snowfall amounts.
Many times, and the most recent storm is a prime example, the weather prognosticators will predict a storm with a foot of snow and three to four inches actually falls to the ground. I have a term for those weather folks — “Snow Goose.” This is a meteorologist that wants and prays for the best for the skiers and snowboarders and one that actually says positive things about active weather during winter.
To that point, thank you! But hoping for and predicting the foot of snow which then is included in the resort’s snow report just causes problems. Sure the forecast includes such wording as “there is a possibility” or “I wouldn’t be surprised if,” in actuality it would be better not to mention that 10 percent chance of a foot and stress the two to fours inches that is for certain.
How many times have you gone to a resort expecting one to two inches of fresh snow and low and behold Mother Nature graces everyone with six inches instead. No complaints there, right? So I am making a request of you Snow Gooses (believe it or not I love you) to be a bit more on the conservative side when making those four and five day out predictions. They only cause problems for those hard working snow reporters out there that try to keep the reports as accurate as possible, or do, and that’s a topic for a whole other column.
That’s it for this week; more to come as the season continues. Just be patient as whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it!
Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for skisoutheast.com and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.