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Ski Forecast

Galavante Confidential – Chasing Powder
February 6, 2013
By , Founder & CEO of OpenSnow

There’s nothing worse than watching a perfect, unexpected powder hit Colorado...from your office across the country. What about last month’s below-average predictions? It’s enough to make you want to ditch work, hop a plane, and hit the slopes. And with OpenSnow, you can do exactly that.

It works like this. As little as a week out, check OpenSnow and pick your slope. Covertly clear your calendar of any can’t-miss meetings, hack a bronchitis-worthy cough, and pop Airborne like it’s going the way of the Twinkie – in plain sight of your boss. Once your alibi is in place, Vail, here you come. Bonus points if you can persuade your partners in crime to join.

Alpine Village

Here are top tips for chasing that fat powder, and making it a ditch day better than anything you ever experienced in high school.

1) Use weather forecasting websites that are local and focused on snow

There are two types of snow forecasts; those made by humans and those made by computers. While computers are great at forecasting temperatures and winds, they falter when forecasting snow in big mountains. So seek out local websites that show snow forecasts crafted by human beings. OpenSnow is the best for U.S. locations. For other destinations, look for local bloggers. If you want to get geeky and forecast your own snow, check out Twister Data for U.S. weather models and MeteoStar for worldwide weather models. 

2) Know the stats

It’s simply a fact that some ski areas get more snow than others. Dig into the numbers for North America at BestSnow.net and check the averages for each resort and progress reports so far this season.

3) Ignore (most) seasonal forecasts

You’ll naturally gravitate to seasonal snow forecasts, but don’t let this determine your destination. Almost all seasonal forecasts are inaccurate, and in a sense they don’t really matter. Finding powder and good snow comes down to the weather pattern during your vacation, not a seasonal average. Dry years can still have periods of great snow and vice versa. If there is a strong El Niño (warmer water in the central Pacific Ocean) or a strong La Niña (cooler water in the central Pacific Ocean), this can help seasonal forecasts be a bit more accurate.

4) Be flexible and travel with options

If finding powder is your primary objective, relish the opportunity for an adventure. Book flights to a central area and hold off on booking lodging until the last minute when you know where snow will fall. If you’re Colorado-bound, avoid Denver airport if you can and fly directly into Vail, since the pass is often closed when the fat powder starts to fall. For flights, book an airline that doesn’t charge change fees and rearrange your flights at the last minute. If this sounds like a lot of work and uncertainty, then just…

5) Travel with people you love

Powder is great, but people are better. Any ski holiday can be a good one if you spend it with your friends and family, even if the snow conditions leave room for improvement. Of course the goal is to combine great people and deep powder, so start geeking out on weather and embrace a flexible travel schedule.

Four Seasons Resort Vail

And after your own kind of snow day, an après-ski Hot Banana Split (not to be confused with the ice cream treat) at Red Lion and a juicy filet mignon at Sweet Basil are in order. Go ahead and indulge. You already worked it off on the slopes. Plus, the extra dose of zinc will help you regain your “health” in time for work on Monday.

The Experts: OpenSnow
For Galavante Members only, get 20 percent off the subscription membership by typing in firstchair-galavante. Valid through the last day of February 2013.