In the past week or so the reality of ski season has started to set in. Although summer and fall bring out the real color of Colorado, it is hard not to enjoy the snow covered peaks, the cold brisk nights, and of course getting on the slopes. There is something about ski season that just feels so right and Colorado is truly blessed with not only some of the most beautiful vistas but also some of the most amazing ski terrain. Crested Butte Mountain Resort opened last Wednesday for opening day which happened to be free for everyone. There was not much options in terms of ski runs, and the lines rivaled a weekend at Vail resorts but it didn’t matter, it was exciting to get back on the sticks for the first time since April. In order to make a ski season successful, we must have snow. Of course some years are better than others, but if you are a powder hound like me, you know there are plenty of resources to track the white stuff on the internet.
|Opening week and its still a white ribbon!|
OK, OK, we all know how bad it was in Colorado last year, minus the odd ball of Wolf Creek with over 100 inches before December and 396 inches on the season. Every storm seemed to stay far north of Colorado. With each passing day, it got worse and worse. I remember riding my bike on the Upper Loop on January 4th. In February there was a little relief, but it was too little too late. Crested Butte Mountain Resort didn’t even see 100″ from November 23rd to April 8th. It holds the record as the 2nd worst snowfall year ever for Crested Butte Mountain Resort. We kept waiting and waiting, and winter quickly turned into bike season. As a result, we were in panic mode the first half of the summer with high fire danger and our rivers and reservoirs were evaporating fast. Ok, well enough of that. As you should all know, it is impossible to predict how each winter will pan out. I am not a meteorologist, however, I love winter weather and storms and do as much research and tracking as I can. This year forecasters had initially said that it would be an El Nino winter.
My understanding of El Nino is that the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature warms near the equator. This usually increases the likelihood of storms in our area, thus dumping more snow on our ski slopes. Obviously, that is not a very scientific description, but the general idea is that El Nino could create a greater chance of snow. As it stands now, most recent forecasts have shown a stand still. Meaning the weather has become neutral, somewhere in between El Nino and La Nina. This is making what some long range forecasters say one of the most difficult winters to predict. Meanwhile the snow has for the most part stayed to the north of Colorado yet again. My goal every year is to improve, whether I am skiing powder, groomers or moguls. No matter what, we need snow to cover the grass and rocks to open more difficult and steep terrain. Here at Crested Butte it takes a bit more snow than most resorts because of some pretty extreme Terrain.
Here are a multitude of forecast/snow links that I use on a daily basis, in no particular order:
Snowforecast.com has been been in the game a while but I started to use there site last year. The recently updated website makes for very easy navigation and functionality. They do personal weather forecasts for each and every ski resort in Canada and the United States. Although when two ski resorts are next to each other the forecast tends to be the same. The homepage shows highest 24 hour snow totals and highest foretasted totals. A cool feature they offer is a map that shows a radar and winter weather alerts issued by the National Weather Service. The site includes a forum and you can sign up to get snow alerts.
Powderchasers.com has been another go-to source for me because it’s unique qualities. Steve or “powderchaser” chases storms to resorts that get the most snow or at least where he thinks the most snow will drop! The home page and entire website is very simple and easy to use. Although he might not update his “powder alert” every day he updates as needed. He forecasts the west and at times will forecast the east when warranted.
Opensnow.com formerly know as Colorado Powder Forecast is a very user friendly site. Joel Gratz and Andrew Murry started the sight last November and has since been a hit for Colorado weather freaks. Joel updates the Colorado forecast every day and sometimes multiple times a day. You can set up a “dashboard” and save your favorite resorts for convenience. Open Snow has yet to truly go region to region but it seems this is their goal. They do have a Tahoe Forecaster as well as a forecaster out East. Another character that sets them apart from the rest is that they have fun naming the storms.
The Crested Butte Avalanche Center is my go-to page for local backcountry conditions. The home page offers a weather synopsis and what’s happening in the backcountry. Detailing recent slides and what to expect out in the backcountry. It also includes the current danger graph for the region and trends. You can submit recent observations, which is a very neat feature. People post pictures and a quick write up of the conditions they experienced. The guys the run the site are all CB locals and love what they do.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center is a very useful site for all backcountry snow conditions in Colorado. Whether you’re a skier, snowmobiler, or if you are just getting out in the backcountry, this site is a must view before you head out. It has a detailed avalanche and weather forecast for every different zone in Colorado. It also shares accidents in Colorado and the United States.
This is the National Weather Service website. These are the guys that release weather advisory for the United States. I use the Grand Junction NWS which issues statements for eastern Utah and Western Colorado. The sight is easy to navigate. the home page shows the weather story, radar, satellite, and weather map. It also includes any current advisories.
With that said, Check out the sites for your self. As far as weather, who knows what will happen. Last October we got a good amount of snow, and then moisture left the area. So far the moisture has been completely absent. It is all about the storm track and right now it is not in our favor. Regardless, winter is the time to hunker down, drink tea, eat soup, ski, and repeat. It is an excuse to wear long johns all day, and to enjoy an alcoholic beverage before noon. It may snow this year, it may not, that is the beauty of visiting other ski destinations. No matter what it is going to be a wonderful ski season, and I can’t wait to share every moment with you!
whether your still biking or need to plan a backcountry tour route check out 2pedal for maps.