We all like to discuss weather as it has such a profound impact on our favorite sport. People plan trips based on weather projections and I want to make sure people have accurate information. (Of course, weather is so hard to predict in this region.) So that people can better understand the nature of predictions, I'd ask that people include the source and time of any weather projections they post on DCSki. That way we can better gauge the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts. For example, if there's a report from the National Weather Service predicting 12 inches of snow, provide a link to the NWS report and the time the report was made. That will help everyone out as they plan their trips.
I would also recommend that no one take the forecasts on the DCSki Message Forum literally; by their nature they'll be dated by the time you read them. If you're planning to visit a resort, check real-time weather conditions through AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, the National Weather Service, etc.
The problem with snow reporting is that there are various ways to measure snow. Snowshoe measures snow by melting it and measuring water content. That's the most accurate form of measurement. I need to see if White Grass measures snow this way or via a collection tube. This subject is probably worthy of some research and an entire article.
Snowshoe, btw, is reporting 6 inches as of 1500 on 14 Dec.
Since I know exactly how Snowshoe measures snow, I trust its numbers more than anyone else's.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-14-2003).]
I wasn't making a weather prediction. I was describing what had actually happened. There's a subtle difference! As of Sunday afternoon, the storm has been an all-snow event for high-altitude areas of West Virginia. I have spoken directly with folks at Snowshoe to confirm this, and they have sent me photos, which I'll be posting later today or tomorrow. What path the storm takes now I don't know, but I'm not qualified to make predictions. I just report the news.
The point is, a lot of folks rely on DCSki for planning trips. Based on reading a weather prediction on DCSki, someone may choose whether or not to go to a specific resort. Resorts can lose a substantial amount of money based on a wrong weather prediction. I want DCSki is be a source of balanced, accurate information, as much as is possible.
I'm not trying to single out anyone for making inaccurate predictions -- after all, this region of the country is probably one of the most difficult to forecast, with the ocean, mountains, etc. But if someone is going to make a definitive statement about exactly what type of conditions a specific area will receive, it will be helpful to all of us if that is backed up by sources and methods.
You'll notice that forecasts from official sources are always measured in the language of chances, e.g., there's a 30% chance of snow. I have gotten negative feedback from people concerning the accuracy of the weather predictions they've seen posted on the Message Forum, and it seems a sensible way for me to address this problem -- while maintaining the open nature of the Message Forum -- is to encourage people to describe how they arrive at weather predictions they post. That's all. I'm really not trying to be a meanie!
As far as snow measurements, I'm not sure who to believe or what the best way is to go about measuring. I use a tube to measure snow here in Davis -- we got 6 inches of snow/sleet over the weekend. I'm not sure how measuring the liquid content of snow can give an accurate measure of snowfall because snow (even during the same snow event) has different liquid/depth ratios. For example, the first three inches of snow we got had a lot of sleet mixed in and was probably around .5" of liquid. However the last three inches were very fine and powdery, I'm guessing more like .2" of liquid. The average ratio is about .1" of liquid per inch of snow, but of course that is just the average of extremes. With that in mind I don't know how melting the snow can give you an accurate amount. If there is some sort of formula that they use to accurately find the amount of snow fallen from the liquid measurements then I would love to use that method. But until then, I think that using a tube to catch the snow (high enough off the ground to avoid catching blowing snow) is the most accurate method around.
You might want to consult NWS because they measure snow by the melt process. NWS and Weather.com's global forecasting system use elevation to determine temperature and precipitation in WV. Accuweather does not.
Overall, the best way to check the weather in WV is to stick you head out the window and look at what is happening.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-15-2003).]
My favorite at the moment is NWS .. www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/ ... They are quite accurate as far as 5 days out. When there is a breaking weather situation (like the snow this weekend) the site is update hourly. There is a lot of information here, probably more than most people need but its well laid out and easily interpreted. Plus I suspect that Accuweather and Weather.com probably get a lot of their info from NWS
[This message has been edited by snowcone (edited 12-15-2003).]
Are you sure they use "use elevation to determine temperature"? From what base does NWS extrapolate the temperature for Snowshoe?
To the best of my knowledge, NWS takes local predictions and current weather from the closest weather station, which in the case of Snowshoe and Canaan, is just outside of Elkins: Randolph County-Jennings Randolph Field. This would make a lot of sense in that almost all airfields have weather instruments as a necessity. We have found that readings (using a Kestrel 4000) at Snowshoe tend to follow the degrees-per-1000-feet rule when compared to Elkins; ie., Elkins at appx 2000 ft ASL (and the NWS report) is 3-6 degrees warmer than Snowshoe at close to 5000 ASL.
... and then there are the micro-climates. So no, one source is ever correct IMHO.
For accuracy within the next 48 hours or so I prefer NWS. They'll generally mention 'higher amounts along the ridges' when giving accumulation forecasts.
I have WeatherBug on my PC at home and work because it's a handy way to get current temps - they seem to have a reporting station at 7Springs (zip 15622) - unfortunately they don't have a station in Canaan Valley - they give temps for Elkins.
At the very bottom of my list is Weather.com....they seem to be in the business of selling ads, rather than forecasting weather.
Weather.com (Weather Channel) and the NWS collect weather information from the Snowshoe MTN Resort, which uses National Weather Service approved methodology to collect weather and precipitation data. Weather Data is collected by the Snowshoe Public Safety Department. In short, the forecast you get for Snowshoe both on NWS and Weather.com are different from Elkins forecast.
In the Canaan Valley, there is an official NOAA weather observer. Hence, NWS forecasts for Canaan Valley are different from Elkins and reasonably accurate. We also have an airport, Windwood, so we rely heavily on NWS data in that area for fliers.
You are right on Accuweather. They do not collect local data from the CV or Snowshoe.
Another reliable source is Herb Stevens, the skiing weatherman. He consults with the Snowshoe weather station for each of his reports.
Finally, Snowshoe has asked other ski areas in the region to agree to use the NWS methodology for measuring snow and could not secure an agreement from some of the other resorts. Why? Because resorts east of the Allegheny escarpment do not get much snow and therefore are not interested in a level playing field.
As you can imagine, weather and snow predictions are a VERY sensitive area in this region.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-15-2003).]
Truely an odd weather day indeed, as the winds shifted from the East to the North/North East, then back to the East, signifying a warm-up, then a cool down and return to snow.
"Ever since the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Snowshoe Mountain
has received 40 inches of snow and temperatures have been perfect for
snowmaking. On December 5 we opened with 13 trails and just over a week
later, there are 39 trails available including Cupp Run from top to bottom."
Only a few of the resorts in the region have the cold weather and snowmaking capacity to go from 13 trails to 39 in just a week in December. That's an impressive achievement for Snowshoe and for Mid-Atlantic skiiing in general.