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A Guide for Snowfall at North American Ski Areas

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
After seeing so many topic postings like: "When is the best snow at ski area X?", I hope more Bears will check an excellent web site before relying on subjective opinions of fellow Bears. Weather patterns are fairly consistent and pretty variable within a predictable range of temperatures. The historic records of measured snowfall have been analyzed and summarized by Tony Crocker on his web site Your Guide to Snowfall .

If you want to "know" where and when the snow will fall get out a snow crystal ball and then check the web site!

[ October 18, 2002, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: Gladeator ]
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

The snowfall at Big White in your neighborhood was awesome last season. You are lucky up there in BC.
post #3 of 18
Most regular posters on the forum know about this excellent site. I wonder if we AC or dchan can create a link to this site from the home page since we seem to be referring people to it so often. Perhaps we can enter into a formal or informal partnership or relationship with Tony Crocker. Any thoughts our great and fearless leaders/moderators?
post #4 of 18
"Weather patterns are fairly consistent and pretty variable within a predictable range of temperatures."

Since when? Other than to say that it will snow in the winter and rain in the summer, I would have to take serious exception to that statement. For example, during my skiing career, I have seen years when there was barely enough snow to ski on (they had to drag it out of the trees onto the groomed runs) at Sugar Bowl and other years when they got 20 to 30 feet. I've been skiing at Tahoe area resorts for 27 years and about all I can say for sure is that Sugar Bowl usually gets more snow than anybody. Also, a couple of years ago I had a conversation with somebody with the National Weather Service. I pointed out that the storms in various parts of the world, Europe in particular (previoulsly unheard of flooding), were very unusual and I wondered whether the existing weather models were becomming obsolete because of global warming. He acknowledged that that was a problem and that the possibility that new models were needed was being considered. If all you needed to do was look at weather history and project it into the future, we wouldn't need weather forcasts; all we would have to do is look on the calender. Consider this: in the winter of 1846-47, it was so cold at Donner Lake that the trapped emigrants were able to walk accross it from end to end. Since I've been around here (since 1965), Donner Lake has never even frozen over.
Regards, 'dog.
post #5 of 18
Yeah, I've been going to that site for a couple seasons...

It's great that you pointed it out for those who haven't been there.

AC or dchan should make a link...cause it's a great site!
post #6 of 18
Really cool-- thanks!
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

I new someone would take issue with my very poorly worded sentence about weather patterns and their variations. Sometimes the written word does not allow me to "talk with my hands"!

Of course there are unusual weather events that are exceptions to the normal range of temperatures and precipitation. I was trying to say that weather statistics, such as snowfall, could be illustrated by a bell-curve graph. The unusual or extreme deviations from the norm would appear on the graph outside the statistical "standard deviavion" from the statistical "average".

The "powder line" of my original posting was to give others access to Tony Crocker's data and his expert opinion. I admit that all of the "where/when should I go for snow?" topics have become a little redundant.

BTW, I have a great track record of bringing snow storms with me when I go skiing. It is an uncanny blessing...I humbly claim. So if your ski area needs a good snowstorm, send an airline ticket and a good book for the trip! Any takers?? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 18
I have to agree with powderdog on this topic. Snow forecasting in general is not yet an exact science, it is more like a guess at best. I also live in the tahoe area ( not as long as powderdog), and there is no way to tell what the weather or snowpack will be like at any given time. But there is some reasureance for visiters on the web sight regarding "average" snow depths for certain months. It is better than nothing i suppose?
The only thing I disagree with is that sugar bowl gets more snow than any other tahoe resort. Ww all know that KIRKWOOD gets the most and the best snow right? I just couldn't resist throwing in a plug for my home resort [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

I am still amazed that Donner actually froze completely over, WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Trees are my friend

[ October 19, 2002, 09:34 PM: Message edited by: Kirkwoodman ]
post #9 of 18
Really good info!!!! I just wonder if there aren't discrepancies that are very hard to discern while reading the information.

A lot of the information presented does not reflect the information that is marketed to the public as 'fact'. Which might be truer; or is it more a matter of interpretation. I find it hard to believe that some of the instances with GROSS differences in snowfall could exist in published advertising media and not be true.(After all we live in a country that sues when you spill your own coffee on yourself!!!) ... Does anyone here have a ready explanation for the differences in these numbers?

I know this does not mean a whole lot to most skiers. For those of us who ski the lift served areas; ....who can claim that there is a difference between 4 feet of snow below the snow surface or 10 feet. I think most of this snow issue boils down to preservation, and that is where the real discussion begins. Ninety plus percent of skiers will go for the preservation argument while that small group of 'Powder Hounds' want the numbers. The data provided through this thread is all about numbers and only briefly comments on snow quality and preservasion. -- I hope everyone reading this thread takes that into consideration... -It can mean the difference between a Great vacation, or just a good vacation! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well said about the base depth and preservation issue. It is a big issue here on the east coast. He does report exposure percentages for most resorts.

As far as the ski resort claims are concerned, Tucker mentions it in his comments about "average snowfall". I didn't double-check....however, I think that Tucker says some resorts may only use short-term annual averages (5 or 6 past years) instead of the total number of reported years per Tucker's web site.

I hope this helps clear the snow out of the air for now. On second thought, let it snow!
post #11 of 18
I sent this thread to one of the ski areas that was highly maligned in the mentioned web site. Here is their reply:

Thanks for sending that over...

The only explanation I can give you is that the people who posted those
averages is a complete uninformed idiot. LOL

We EASILY get as much snow as Alta each season... We are both at the top of
our respective canyons, meaning we each receive the incredible benefit of
orographic lift in weather patterns (it is incomprehensible that solitude
could ever have more snow than brighton for this reason... As is the case
with snowbird vs alta also). We benefit more from 'western-wrap-around'
storm tracks while Alta benefits more from 'lake-effect' tracks. We get
about the same amount of each type of event each season... More westerns
early season... More lake effect mid season. It balances out.

The problem here is that Alta has a NWS weather site at the top of Collins
Lift (in a nice cirque) where as there is no such site currently operating
reliably anywhere at Brighton... Or near it. So the only NWS site to look at
for brighton is several miles down canyon from the resort.

We measure our snow every morning between 5-5:30am in Cathy Jorgensen's
driveway on the brighton circle (not even mid/upper mountain like alta's
site). Cathy takes 3 measurements triangularly around the driveway and
averages them for the new snow that day (as opposed to measure new snow
every hour like alta does, i.e. No settle/wind affects... A warm day can
kill our new snow total because of this). Our base depth is reported from a
stake near the top of majestic (a chair that doesn't even reach mid
mountain) by our patrol each morning. Using this system we have had well
over 500 inches of new snow every SEASON (not year) that I have worked here
(six years). I've seen it... I've played in it. I have skied/snowboarded
all over the western U.S. And I have never seen snow fall like I have here
at brighton in an average storm. My first season here it seemed like every
day was waist deep powder.

Snow reporting unfortunatly has a poor reputation due to some resorts
fudging the numbers... Some a lot. I could give some examples, but it
would probably be politically incorrect... But lets just say there's no way
in God's creation that Park City can EVER have a base or new snow even near
brighton's... LOL

There is no 'standard' for snow reporting and that does create a problem...
I actually wrote a pretty long document for ski utah a few years back
outlining a proposal for a standard, but it was shot down, primarily by
summit county resorts (park city side), probably due to the difference in
snow depth that would become apparent.

It's unfortunate that someone would start a webpage about snow conditions,
but then have no real knowledge of them or how they occur but yet act like
they are experts. Really they are fools... I feel bad for Powder also,
since I know many of those guys at that magazine and to be affiliated with
such a site in that way is pretty negative on them also.

Bottomline is this... Just because it's on the web doesn't mean it's

Thanks for bringing it to my attention though, I will probably be contacting
the people who do the site real shortly to have a word about how weather
really works around here.


Dan Malstrom
Marketing & Sales Director
Brighton Resort
Star Route
Brighton, Utah 84121
(801)532-4731 ext. 245
(800)873-5512 tollfree
(435)649-1787 fax


I just sent you a thread from epicski.com that has a link on it with snow
accumulation records from North American ski areas. Those numbers are vastly
different from the ones that you use in your advertising materials. Is there
an explanation for these differences?

Thank you for your time,

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

That's quite a reaction by Dan Malstrom of Brighton Resort! In fact that is quite an innappropriate and unprofessional reaction on his part. Perhaps an inquiry to Tony Tucker could have answered some of his questions about how the average snowfall figures for Brighton were developed before making accusations.

I hope Dan looks before he jumps on the mountain, because he missed the landing on the snowfall issue. I don't doubt that Brighton gets as much snow as Alta. Was he trying to say that the Alta snowfall numbers are inaccurate? Maybe both areas get so much that worrying about a few feet more or less is a waste of time?

One of the Brighton Resort press releases states that the area gets "500 inches of snow each season." Is that a true statement? Dan should apologize for such unwarranted attacks on a reliable source of information.

I hope this snow storm ends soon so we can go skiing!

[ October 30, 2002, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: Gladeator ]
post #13 of 18
I ski at Whistler.

Please tell me which days this season will be the best powder days. That way I can start feigning illness at work several days in advance.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

I can only refer you to the crystal ball mentioned in the first post on this topic. I would save those sick days for January when the crowds are gone and the powder will be all yours!
post #15 of 18
IMHO Dan is the expert and your so-called expert source is mis-using information that is not intended to steer the public to different areas of the country!!!! :
post #16 of 18
Originally posted by feal:

But lets just say there's no way
in God's creation that Park City can EVER have a base or new snow even near
brighton's... LOL
But the top of Park City is also at the top of your little box canyon. If the top of Alta and Brighton get the same amount of snow, isn't it possible that PC would get the same as well. Sure if he is talking at the base of the resort, then he is right. PC measures it base at the top of Jupiter Lift, and it sounds like Brighton does it about 1,000 ft lower. Dan is a little wrong in his assuming that Alta gets the same amount as Brighton. The diference is that LCC rises more in a shorter distance, so the moisture cools faster and falls sooner than the same storm travelling up BCC. If you check the weather stations located in BCC, the station at the spruces gets more than the station located closer to Brighton. Why? But when you're talking about 500" of snow, a few feet is nitpicking. On Alta's web page they list snow fall history from October through April and get right around 500".
post #17 of 18
All good points Crew!!

The one thing that may be missing in your response is the fact that the reason these canyons get so much snow is generally considered to be the fact that the 'lift' of the snow clouds as they approach the back of the canyons tends to 'squeeze' the clouds enough to increase the snow levels inside the canyons. For this reason, it would be reasonable to assume that snowfall levels might often be higher in the lower levels of the canyons where the cloud compression actually occurs, and the lack of wind flow in these 'closed' wind patterns tends to trap more snow than other areas in the same proximity. .... That was the point that was being made; --Alta has their snow monitoring site in one of those areas that is very favorable but still, likely not the best site that could be found in the canyons; while the site quoted by the author of this web site is in a very unfavorable site on the Brighton side of the larger canyon. It is undoubtedly arguing over nothing, and the bottom line is that all four of the resorts in the canyons have areas that benefit greatly from this phenomenon, so arguing over who is better has no value.

The point to be made remains that people who compile lists from numbers that are not intended to be used in such a way and have not taken the time to do the needed scientific study on these numbers are doing great injustices to many areas of the sport. Brighton was just one of the glaring inconsistencies in that web site,and it stands out as a lesson that you can't believe everything you read on the internet!
post #18 of 18
Knuck: The best powder days at Whistler, as everyone knows is Feb. 29th and 30th, except during leap years where it occurs a day later than those dates.

Keep skiing faster! :
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