With hourly updates, visual weather data such as radar, and a snow cam showcasing Gnorm the powder Gnome, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is one of few resorts leading the way in snow and weather transparency.
Chad Hemphill, the assistant avalanche forecaster for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, said the resort has made it clear that providing the best data is important.
“We quantify the times, for example, snow since 4 p.m., and this prevents ambiguity in regards to when the snow fell,” Hemphill said. “Further, each day, we write a report about avalanche terrain, new snow and conditions. More specifically we talk about the wind in order to capture which places might have more snow rather than just putting a number down on a page because there’s more snow in a certain place.”
The first chart shows the data from the Ripper plot, updated every five minutes, and the second it the hourly information from the subpeak station. Photo Revelstoke Mountain Resort Website.
On the mountain are two different high-tech weather stations. One is at tree line, called the Ripper Plot, while the other sits subpeak. The Ripper plot records snow height over a 24-hour period, the high and low temperatures, as well as the dew point. The snow stake at this station sits in a sheltered position so as not to be affected by the wind. Meanwhile, the subpeak station records dew point, average temperature, wind speeds and gusts, and wind direction. All of the information from both stations is uploaded directly to the website. The Ripper Station updates every five minutes while the subpeak station does so on the hour. Whether a person is a weather geek or trying to decide to call in sick, this allows for a more comprehensive and interactive data collection.
Although the weather stations typically produce correct reports, to eliminate discrepancies, Hemphill and the other forecaster manually check the data everyday. This does not just involve checking snow height, but also manually correlating the snow and water equivalent.
“Some places will say for every millimeter of water equivalent they will multiply by a factor of 1.3 centimeters, because that’s their average snow density,” Hemphill said. “But, if you don’t measure manually, especially on the days with high density snow, then you’re going to be over reporting because the snow is more dense.”
This is a photo of the Ripper Weather Station. Photo Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
By considering density versus applying a formula to the results from a remote station, it keeps the amounts relativized as well as more honest. On top of snow stake location and other factors, this partly explains why many resorts develop a reputation for over reporting Hemphill said.
“We try to report it as accurately as possible, and if we see discrepancies with the numbers, we talk to the guys who run the website and update the numbers.”
Hemphill said presenting all of the information the forecasters use to the public has only fostered positive feedback.
“We get a lot of comments of appreciation, especially from locals, on accuracy even when it comes to the lower side of reporting.”
This is Gnorm the weather Gnorm. He stands 27 cm high. Guests can watch him become buried over the course of storms to see how mcuh snow has fallen. It's a creative snow stake cam. Photo Courtesy of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
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