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OpenSnow Forecasters Answer Skiing & Snow Questions

We wanted to help answer some of the most pressing questions you may have for our local forecasters. Of course, the question we are getting asked most this time of year is, "What's going to happen this winter?". We wanted to get into that and a few other questions as I interviewed our forecasters this week. 

Let's see what they had to say!


Evan Thayer - Utah Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

Your guess is as good as mine.  Seasonal forecasts are always tricky, especially for Utah. What I am sure of is that we will have plenty of powder days.  We always do here in Utah!   

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

Limitless and bottomless fluffy snow!  Enjoyed with a solid group of friends. The type of day where you get to the bottom of a run and high five everybody insight and share disbelieving laughter.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

Anything with untracked snow, but I am most partial to tree skiing on storm days.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Snowstorms are the obvious answer, but I also enjoy summer thunderstorms.

I'm a sucker for any type of "severe" weather. I enjoy photographing lightning.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Does the broth in a bowl of Japanese ramen count as a "drink?" Otherwise, I'd have to go with a glass of bourbon to warm me up.  

Follow the Utah Daily Snow to read Evan's latest updates.


Powderchaser Steve - Chase Powder Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

There is no way to accurately forecast who gets the most snow, however with a shift to a more neutral pattern I am more bullish for the Pacific Northwest and areas of the central or northern Rockies. I like the prospects of perhaps cooler temps in this region. The Sierra could go either way but I am cautious to predict.

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

The perfect powder day? That's easy! A foot or more of medium or lower density powder, no winds, and first chair! It's an easy answer.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

Deep, Long, Steep. Squaw KT 22, Snowbird Tram, JHMR Hobacks, Vail's Back Bowls (not steep but so fun), Targhee with no crowds.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Weather events that either dump deep snow several days in a row or a storm that you can chase from the one end of the map to the other. Chase the same storm and ski 3 consecutive deep days.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Aprés drink? I don't really drink much alcohol so my favorite Aprés is "A new computer model that comes out showing another foot or more snow".

Follow the Chase Powder Daily Snow to read Steve's latest updates.


Larry Schick - Northwest Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

Let’s be honest, long-range seasonal forecasting is not good. I would argue, even if it was, who knows what if will be like the week when you are there. It could be epic the only week of a dud season. Follow the daily forecasts from OpenSnow. That’s really the best you can do. Given a neutral ENSO this year, the Pacific NW typically produces the goods in that phase - not always exceptional snowfall but at or above normal snowfall could be reasonably expected. We may be plagued with occasional high snow level issues (warmth), but that’s typical. I expect more snowfall than last year for the NW (which was below normal). Also expect a more typical snow season start (Thanksgiving, natural snow) unlike the late start of last year. The rest of the West is a crap-shoot, no trend.

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

5-10” new, low snow level, not flat light, groomed on the runouts back to the lift. And best of all I am there cause I called it! You don’t know if you don’t go.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

I like exploring especially after the crowds leave on a powder day or even day two, as the mountain opens up after avy control. Everybody goes for the premiere runs on a pow day, which tracks out fast. But I often can find untracked lower on the mountain or in places I’ve scouted out way before a powder day unfolds.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

We get a lot of storms in the Pacific NW. I like the ones with high confidence we will see low snow levels with 8” plus. An example is below. You want that area of cold open-cell cumulous (popcorn pattern) slamming into the Cascades – it’s almost a guarantee of high quality and abundant powder snow.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Are you buying? Thank you! A local microbrew pale ale, please.

Follow the Northwest Daily Snow to read Larry's latest updates.


Steve Stuebner - Idaho Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

Looking forward to another great winter in Idaho! No talk of El Nino or La Nina so far so should be equal chances for a stellar winter in the Northern Rockies!

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

Getting to the resort early for maximum powder turns. Sunshine on top of fresh *pow* is the penultimate experience but I’ll be glad to ski nonstop in a driving snowstorm as well. 

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

Lots of tree glades for off-trail powder shredding. Enough tree-spacing to allow for full-throttle speed.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Fresh powder! At least 6 inches to get the stoke going.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Hot chocolate and Schnapps, a cold IPA or even a PBR kept cold in the snowbank by the car park! 

Follow the Idaho Daily Snow to read Steve's latest updates.


Bob Ambrose - Montana Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

The last 2 season's (16/17 & 17/18) the long term winter "predictions" were about 90% accurate for Montana in general. ENSO neutral looks like the direction we are heading for the 19/20 season but lots can happen between now and the end of October when we have a slightly better idea on the long term seasonal forecast. ENSO normally favors areas West of the Continental Divide with less precipitation East of the Divide. Places like Whitefish could see slightly above average precip with Big Sky less than average if this condition sticks. That said, only Ullr really knows!

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

Easy. A frigid Canadian backdoor cold front creeps east to west over the Divide and dumps 8-12" of cold smoke in the bowls and glades of the Big Mountain. Preferably on a Monday or a Tuesday morning!

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

Personally, I love in-bound adventures (sign out with Patrol) like the hike out to the east wall at Delirium Dive in Banff or the limited entry North Summit Snowfields at Big Sky. It's hairy and you sweat to get to these places but it's also easy to get back to the lift.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Backdoor cold fronts. Frigid arctic air mixing east to west colliding with saturated Pacific air and producing copious amounts of snow as well as brutal cold temps near or below zero. It's a fairly common occurrence here in the Northern Rockies of Montana.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Being so close to Canada, and loving asparagus, the Bloody Caesar is my fav'! Heck, I'll buy ya' one BA if you come up to the "Fish"!

Follow the Montana Daily Snow to read Bob's latest updates.


Lee Born - Arizona Daily Snow

lee

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

Definitely not as good as last year, that was special. El Nino neutral is gonna turn out to be equal chances.  If we could get a near-average year that would be a win.

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

Perfect powder days are in the middle of the week, with dumpage the night before and throughout the day, freshies every run.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

My favorite is a big powder day on my snowboard. Open steeps first then into the trees. I am also a big fan of a bluebird day on my skis with friends and family.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

The anticipation when models latch on to hyperactive patterns that target the region, like a week or more of several storms. I often can't sleep the night a storm is approaching and baring down. Then the excitement when it comes to fruition and shuts everything down (town, schools, roads, etc), except the resort of course.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

On a cold, snowy day, craft beer. On a warmer day, I prefer a light beer (not picky), with a nip or two of whiskey to boot.

Follow the Arizona Daily Snow to read Lee's latest updates.


Sam Collentine - Colorado & Wyoming

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

We have a hard enough time forecasting beyond the next 1-2 weeks so all I can say for the upcoming season is that it will snow and there should be plenty of powder to enjoy!

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

Good friends, a soft base, 12-18 inches of 20:1 snow (20 inches of snow for every 1 inch of liquid), and a little bit of sun to really make everything shine.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

Steep and deep! My favorite runs include the Alta Chutes at Jackson Hole, Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands, and the hike-to terrain off of Terminator Peak at Kicking Horse. If these runs have 4-8+ inches of fresh snow, you mine as well call them heaven.

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Little waves in the storm track that keep delivering 3-6 inches of snow every 12 or so hours for multiple days in a row. These might not produce the deepest days but they often provide the best skiing and riding conditions. Soft on soft!

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

Drumroll APA from Odell Brewing followed by looking at the latest weather model runs. There's nothing better than finishing an awesome powder day and seeing that yet another one is in store for the upcoming weekend.

Follow the I-70 Daily Snow and the Jackson Hole Daily Snow to read Sam's latest updates.


Bryan Allegretto (BA) - Tahoe Daily Snow

ba

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

It's a little too early to be lining up current conditions with past years. It does look like we could be heading into ENSO neutral or even a weak La Nina this season. Short-term weather patterns tend to drive the pattern in those seasons. Statistically, we usually see below-average snowfall in Tahoe during ENSO neutral conditions. More of a 50/50 shot in weak La Nina.  We will have more to compare to as we get into the Fall.

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

It snows and blows so hard here in Tahoe that storm days are usually not ideal. Luckily, we tend to have clearing skies in the morning after a storm making for perfect bluebird skies and light winds. My perfect day is usually hitting a smaller mountain with fewer crowds, or being at a mountain that got more snow than expected and no one planned to be there for the first chair, except for those of us obsessively tracking the radar trends overnight!

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

My favorite riding is usually in around 12" of fresh powder in open bowls. Those don't last very long usually, so my go-to is hitting the lesser-known areas deep in the trees!

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Growing up in NJ, coastal storms got me the most excited. Our little island would sink under the water and big waves would tear up the beaches. I would watch in awe. Of course, we don't have that in Tahoe, and the reason I moved here 14 seasons ago was to get hit with the biggest snowstorms in the country! Snow is my first love!

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

My wife is a former bartender so I usually have a lot of options, or she just hands me her concoction of the day. During the winter I usually transition to warming up with whiskey, but a good beer on tailgate of my truck or at a local watering hole with friends keeps a smile on my face ;-).

Follow the Tahoe Daily Snow to read BA's latest updates.


Joel Gratz - Colorado Daily Snow

1) What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?

I have no clue what the 2019-2020 season will bring. Seasonal forecasts (3-6 months ahead) offer essentially zero accuracy. Sure, it's fun to speculate about the winter ahead, but for skiing powder, I rely on the 5-10 day forecast to spot storms.

2) What constitutes your perfect powder day?

My perfect powder day goes like this. The snow is light density, the base is soft (not 'dust-on-crust'), there is no wind effect, I am with my wife and best friends, and, as a bonus, somehow there are few people around. Stress-free skiing on a powder day is tough to come by, which in a way is awesome because it means that a lot of people are out, enjoying the fresh powder. Big crowds also force me to be creative and look for off-the-beaten-path ski areas, backcountry areas (with low angle terrain to minimize or remove any possibility of an avalanche), or parts of a popular mountain that are less well known.

3) What is your favorite type of skiing/riding/mountain?

For powder, reasonably-spaced trees with a 25-35 degree pitch is a dream. If the powder is really deep, open and steeper terrain (35+ degrees) is awesome. While sometimes I do challenge myself on very steep terrain, or I'll launch a cliff if the landing is deep and soft, my happiest times are in untracked snow on terrain that isn't scary. Just point 'em downhill and enjoy!

4) What weather events get you most excited?

Max fluff. That's a non-technical term for the lightest, driest powder with a snow-to-liquid ratio of about 20-to-1. Temperatures and winds need to be just right for this to happen. And it's hard to predict. But when it does occur, and the stellar dendrites (a type of snowflake) billow into my face and over my head, well, that's just the greatest. Oh, and in the spring and summer, I like to drive around and look for tornadoes in eastern Colorado and southeast Wyoming.

5) What’s your favorite Aprés drink?

I don't have a favorite drink, though I'm not a fan of IPAs. For music, my choice is EDM, specifically uplifting trance. This is what I listen to at 430 am when I'm writing my forecast and dreaming of future powder, and also what I like to dance to when we transition to #opensnowafterdark.

Follow the Colorado Daily Snow to read Joel's latest updates.


So there you have it, the low-down from your favorite forecasters. We'd love to hear some of your answers as well, so please feel free to add them in the comments!

Be sure to download the OpenSnow app and stay tuned to our forecasts for the latest snow forecasts this season!

- BA

RELATED: Did Anyone Accurately Predict the 2018-19 Winter Season?

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