My home mountain, Sun Peaks, has a stated policy of wanting the "mountain experience" to exceed guest's expectations. They realize that after 2 or 3 turns from the top of the mountain, the top of the mountain snow report becomes irrelevant so they would report the mid mountain snow plot stats. They had to stop doing this as their competitors report the top of the mountain snow depths and they were forced to conform.
Sun Peak's snow report problems are magnified by the fact that due to getting less annual snow than most of their competitors they have had 25 years of on-going summer grooming. Almost every stump on the mountain has been pulled, rocks picked, weeds cut and grass planted resulting in being able to report a snow depth that when it is 50 cm less than others areas will have equal or better coverage than other resorts. The problem is: how do you convey this in a snow report? I think it was 2004-05 that had a very poor start to the year, but SP had 100 out of 133 runs open with a 45cm (18") compacted base. Maybe # of runs open in early season is a good measure of conditions.
For most of he 2014-15 season most of the mountain had close to normal snow depths, but just about every time it snowed it was quickly followed by rain almost to the mountain top or no rain but above freezing temps up top which is not normal. Most TV, radio or internet ski sites don't have room or time to report mountain top and valley temps but ski resort website do. SP's website reports base, mid. and top temps and mid and top snow depths and a 5:30 am snowfall report. You can also look up monthly snowfall and monthly snow depths going back to 1994-95 for the mid mountain snow plot.
From the SP website:
"Want to know how we get these readings?
Our snowfall data for the past 1 hour, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, and 7 days are all updated via our telemetry system every 2 minutes by utilizing an ultrasonic snow depth device at our mid mountain snow plot at 1,855m (6,086'), which has been recording statistics since 1972. The snow base at Mid Mountain, temperatures, and wind speed data are all updated via our telemetry system every 2 minutes as well, pulling data from this same plot. All of this data is then converted at a central server, and automatically uploaded to the web every 15 minutes. This allows us to relay accurate, real-time data to our guests, untouched by human hands and definitely not massaged to increase the snow fall measurement. Our second snow plot is located in the alpine at the top of the Crystal Chair at 2,061m (6,762') in a sheltered area. The height of snow at the alpine base (edit by me: "alpine base" snow plot is about 100' from the top of the mountain) is a traditional data plot, and information is taken manually by Sun Peaks Patrol.
If you would like more information about our snow reading system at Sun Peaks Resort, please send us an email."
A little more information about our snow reporting practices:
"Snow depth is influenced by settlement over time, causing snow depth to be smaller than what has actually fallen. For example, a 10cm fall recorded on a storm plot may only yield a base increase of 8cm or less, because snow compacts or settles after it has fallen. Snow depth is also influenced by wind. Sometimes this results in deposition that increases depth and sometimes the wind scours and reduces the depth.
The mid-mountain plot is placed in a wind protected area, so the snow falls mostly straight down. This is why we choose to record our snow fall from the mid mountain snow plot. The snow depth at the alpine plot is advertised, but the plot is used mainly for storm snow monitoring for avalanche forecasting. It is true that if we only measured the snow in the alpine we could say that our base is deeper. It is our impression that we need to talk more about consistency, honesty, and what skiing conditions actually are. We believe that recording our snow depths from the mid-mountain area, as well as the alpine is a more accurate portrayal of the entire ski area."
Sun Peaks also has number of web cams including ones in the village as well as a cam showing the 2 busiest chairlifts which are never all that busy. Ski resorts don't measure or record rainfall. but rain drops on the web cam lens are a dead give away.
So in conclusion, I would make the argument that if one takes the time to do some research, the snow info is there at many resort websites.
Edited by DanoT - 4/19/15 at 10:05pm