Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make your forecasts?
We combine information for our local forecasters, the National Weather Service, and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF).
Why are your forecasts different from other weather services?
All weather forecasting companies have access to the same data basic. The differences between the final forecasts are due to how each company interprets and adjusts the data they receive from weather models.
Do you keep track of your accuracy?
Joel Gratz (Colorado forecaster) kept hand-made records of his accuracy over many years. You can see this data on a page called Keep Me Honest. Also, we have saved every forecast and snow report since starting OpenSnow.com in 2011 and we hope to use this data to create an automated system to track and display our accuracy.
Can you tell me where I should ski based on long-range forecasts?
We are experimenting with 6-month forecasts, which you can access as maps that show areas of the United States and Canada that are favored for above and below average snowfall during the entire winter season. Of course, powder days are created by individual storms and not by seasonal averages, so use these long-range maps as a guide for vacation planning and not as a prescription for exactly where to go.
I am looking for powder. How far in advance can I trust weather forecasts?
We recommend you start getting a feel for the weather pattern 10 days out, start planning trip details about 5 days out (start clearing your calendar), and lock in your plans about 2-3 days out. This is based on how accurate we feel weather forecasts are at certain lead times. Don’t forget: Start faking that you’re sick at work or school a few days out by coughing and leaving packets of Emergen-C all over your desk.
I'm looking for powder, BUT I need to book a trip months in advance.
If powder is your number one criteria, stay flexible. We recommend booking flights on Southwest Airlines so you can change flights with no penalties. Also, most rental car companies and hotels will allow you to change or cancel your reservations provided you do so with adequate notice. Remember, powder is awesome, but there are lots of other reasons to choose one destination over another. Think about convenience to airports, hotel options, and other opportunities like horse drawn sleigh rides and snow mobile rides.
You seem to know what's up. What are your credentials?
We are a team of meteorologists and weather forecasters who are also life-long skiers and riders. We pride ourselves in being good scientists and responsible business people. We're thankful that well over one million people use our service, and that other publications have taken notice, such as ESPN, Thrillist, WIRED, Skiing Magazine, Freeskier, The Washington Post, Outside Magazine, Powder Magazine, MSNBC, TEDx, Westword, The Ski Channel, The Denver Post, and many more.
Where are the maps from Bryan's former site, TahoeWeatherDiscussion.com?
You can still access the maps here.
Can we use your information on our site?
If you're a journalist writing a story, you may copy 1-2 sentences from our forecaster's posts as long as you provide attribution in the form of the forecaster's name, the name of our service (OpenSnow), and a link back to our site. If you would like access to our API or Widgets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide more details about how you intend to use our data. In some cases we are happy to provide our API and Widgets free of charge, and in other cases we do ask for payment. Every situation is different, so please let us know what you need and we will be happy to speak with you.
What’s this thing about your dads voting your site #1?
It started in January 2011 when Joel’s dad was handing out Colorado Powder Forecast business cards like it was his job. So Joel gave him a shout out on the site – "Voted #1 forecast website by my dad". This tagline caught on.