New DCSki
14 posts
6 users
2k+ views
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
September 12, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I'd like to thank Scott for the super job he did on the site re-design. This has not been the easiest summer for him for a variety of reasons, but he nevertheless pressed and fulfilled his promise of a re-design.

The new site is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It's easier to read and easier to get around. The new forum software (installed earlier this year) is certainly an improvement from the software that was running at the beginnning of last season. The weather focuses on one of the coldest resorts in the region--also a good thing! Font sizes and color schemes look good and are easy on the eye.

My last remainining wish is that members could purchase space on the DCSki server to post personal ski shots. That would seem to be the easiest way for skiers to quickly post shots. For the group as a whole, these roving eyes will give us what we really want to see: the current surface conditions on the region's expert terrain.
Scott - DCSki Editor
September 12, 2004
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
Hi John!

I haven't forgotten the user photo space. There's a few major features I'm still finishing up, but I decided to go ahead with the launch now and then roll out the new features as the season approaches. I should have the photo sharing feature ready to go in the next few weeks.

After having Hagerstown weather (and only Hagerstown weather) for far too many years, there are now seven locations that should reflect nearly all resorts in the Mid-Atlantic. I'm still tinkering with the Weather page to make it a bit easier to view, but hidden on the Weather page is a way to set the default location that shows up on the home page. When you visit the Weather page, click on the popup menu to change regions. Then, scroll down and look for the link that sets the default weather location. If you have cookies enabled, DCSki will remember your choice and that's the weather you'll see by default on the home page. I think Snowshoe is currently the default, but that can be changed to any of the seven regions.

Time permitting, some of the additional features I'll be adding to Weather will make it easy to compare weather across these regions, as well as possibly having graphs that show when snowmaking is possible.

It's fair to say that DCSki will keep evolving over the next several months -- I've got all kinds of ideas of enhancements to continue making, and the enhancement should be easy to make now that I've got a state-of-the-art infrastructure underneath DCSki.

Thanks,

- Scott
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
September 12, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Scott:

That sounds good. For default weather, I'd pick one of the colder resorts for obvious reasons. Having Hagerstown as the default could easily lead people to conclude on many days that the weather is too warm in this region for skiing.

John

PS The new NEXRAD feed is also cool... We'll be able to see those storms coming.
ski_guy_59
September 12, 2004
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
I wonder if Scott can add an enhancement that teleports me from the University of Florida to the slopes of Timberline? That'd cut out about 15 hours of driving! All in all, everything looks great. I love the new digs!
snowcone
September 12, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
For Scott:

You have done a marvelous job in upgrading DCSki. As a web developer and master for a couple of govvie sites, I can fully appreciate the hours, sweat, and aggro that went into the work here. Man, you did an AWESOME job!

For johnfmh on the weather:

The main reason that places such as Hagerstown are used for weather sources is that most sophisticated weather stations and weather equipment exist at airports (for obvious reasons). Other sources can be universities such as Penn State in Wilkes-Barre which handles reporting for eastern PA areas not covered by Scranton and Allentown. When the ski areas are further outside of major population areas they use local GA airports; examples would be Ski Liberty and Roundtop which both use weather reports from York Airport PA, Whitetail uses Washington County Regional Airport (Hagerstown), and Wisp gets info from Jennings Randolph Field in Elkins WV (Cumberland has squat for an airport and zip weather info).

Most of the resorts in our immediate area are of the smaller local hill kind and, as such, probably have other things to do with the several thousands of green thingies necessary to install and run a higher-end weather station that can link to the NWS network and actually forecast. I believe Snowshoe has a weather station of some sort but they use that in addition to official weather reports from Elkins and Charleston, not instead of.

My suggestion for weather tracking the various resorts is to track by zip code. Perhaps there is some weather software out there that allows a private site to link to NOAA National Weather Service local reports?
andy
September 12, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004
175 posts
Remember 2001 space odosey..well we are in 2004 & the best weather we can get from snowshoe is ELKINS 2000 feet lower than the shoe! Scott I would not post the snowshoe weather untill we can get the REAL weather from the resort!
Scott - DCSki Editor
September 12, 2004
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
Quote:

Remember 2001 space odosey..well we are in 2004 & the best weather we can get from snowshoe is ELKINS 2000 feet lower than the shoe! Scott I would not post the snowshoe weather untill we can get the REAL weather from the resort!




The Snowshoe weather feed on DCSki is directly from AccuWeather, and is the most accurate information AccuWeather has for Snowshoe. The feed is different than the Elkins feed. (If you go to accuweather.com and search on both elkins, wv and snowshoe, wv, you'll get different results.) I understand that Snowshoe has some weather monitoring/reporting devices at the top of the mountain, and I believe this is fed to AccuWeather, although I'm not 100% sure.

The weather on Snowshoe mountain itself can change quite a bit (especially with those temperature inversions), but I believe we're now getting the best data feed possible for that region. I worked closely with AccuWeather to make sure we were getting the optimal location feeds to best represent the resorts DCSki covers. We also get Snowshoe's snow condition feed from AccuWeather/SnoCountry, and Snowshoe is pretty good about accurately describing conditions and snowfall amounts in their condition report, so that plus weather should be a pretty accurate combination. We'll see how it goes.

- Scott
snowcone
September 12, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
[rant on]

As I understand it, Accuweather pulls a great deal of it weather info from NOAA and uses its own meteorologists to interpret parts of it. As a matter of fact there is some serious jockeying going on at the moment with commercial weather sites such as Accuweather and Weather.com pressuring NOAA to block private citizens from accessing NOAA information so that these commercial sites would control data access via paid subscription. I take great exception to somebody making money off a service my tax dollars provide then blocking my access to that service. I can see for Scott that Accuweather is an easy way to handle a difficult problem as he surely doesn't have the time to research each resort on a daily basis.

I have found that the NOAA and NWS sites give me as much, if not more info, than the commercial sites. For example: this is the site for National Weather Service Tropical Prediction Center National Hurricane Center ... http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ ... click on Maps and Charts for Ivan.. Hmmm ... now where have I seen that diagram before albeit a bit more gussied up? ... look familiar? Now click on the Discussions link for Ivan and compare the dialog on the storm with that of the talking heads on the Weather channel. Pretty much the same stuff.

All the weather information you could possibly want or need is readily available (for the moment at least) on taxpayer supported government weather sites. There are a couple of private meteorologists that I access during the winter for more long term information ... http://wxrisk.com/ ... is one of the better ones,. Another site I like and have found to be very accurate 3-4 days out is ... http://www.snow-forecast.com/ ... it is subscription based but considerable cheaper than Accuweather and I need only pay for it for the 6 months that constitute the ski season.. A fun solution is to learn to read the pilot weather reports. TAFS, METARS and the like give you precise info for a 6-24 hour time frame. ... long enough for a trip to Wisp or Seven Springs.

So for anyone looking to get more accurate data on whether they will be pond skimming or knee deep in powder, I recommend spending a little time learning where to find the -good-weather info ...

[rant off]

sorry about that ... some things just tick me off
Scott - DCSki Editor
September 12, 2004
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
Oh, well, you probably don't want to know what I'm paying for the AccuWeather feed then! (The AccuWeather feed is actually the single greatest expense I have -- greater than even the server colocation fees.)

I have looked into grabbing data directly from NOAA in the past.. From a programmer's perspective, that would be very easy to do. But their servers simply could not handle the load if commercial sites like DCSki kept pinging on them for weather data, so I decided early on not to pursue that course.

AccuWeather does have their own meteorologists, but their greatest value (to me) is that they do a lot of data massaging to get it in a format that is very easy to parse. I take that raw data and then add my own value to it, for example using it to generate snowmaking forecasts. (I don't know how many of you rely on that, but my pulse quickens whenever the forecast shows lots of snow coming out of the snowguns. ) AccuWeather maintains a number of servers and connects to DCSki every fifteen minutes to upload the raw weather data.

AccuWeather leases a snow condition feed from SnoCountry, which pretty much has a monopoly on condition reporting in the U.S. They gather daily information from all ski resorts and put it into a standard format and also (allegedly) try to verify that resorts are being accurate. I could lease that feed directly from SnoCountry, but when I checked into that several years ago, it would be over $2,500 per year. Ouch! AccuWeather pays that fee and then re-sells the feed to sites like DCSki and CNN.com. (The SnoCountry license allows commercial companies to resell the data.) So it's cheaper to get that data through AccuWeather, even though I don't believe AccuWeather changes the data one bit.

Writing my own scripts to grab weather conditions from individual resorts (e.g., pulling data from their web site) would be nearly impossible -- resorts all use different formats, with different levels of consistency in their reporting, and frequently change the layout of the formats. I could set up a system that allowed resorts to submit their daily data directly to DCSki, but they wouldn't want the extra effort, since they already do it for SnoCountry, which is really the industry clearinghouse. SnoCountry does a pretty good job gathering all the data together and putting it in a structured format. And I think they've got a direct line to resorts; it's definitely in the best interest of resorts to submit their conditions each day to SnoCountry, since that branches out to all forms of print, electronic, and television media.

I couldn't agree with you more that NOAA data should continue to be free to the citizens who pay taxes to make the whole thing possible. As you said, AccuWeather provides a value-added service to me that makes weather and snow condition reports a whole lot easier (and in the case of snow condition reports, cheaper too). To do that they have to maintain a staff of programmers and a fleet of servers. But they have no business saying that NOAA data shouldn't be free -- that reminds me of Microsoft tactics!
andy
September 13, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004
175 posts
Actually Elkins is 2800' not 2000 feet less than SS.It looks like accuweather tweeks the forcast a little but still uses the CURRENT weather as Elkins.At 11pm Elkins & what the accuweather people are saying is snowshoe are exactly the same.It was 42 degrees at canaan vly this morn..what did the "SS" weather read as a low?There will be times when its dumping powder at 4800' & it will say rain & 35 degrees for the current weather at SS.AWS weather gets readouts from schools,coast guard stations ect..I get the current weather from a school in oakland,md to use as my best read as to whats going on in the highlands..that & the dolly sods NFS site(when its working) I agree the NWS & NOAA rule! There is also a daily obs report that shows all the elevations & precip ect..Any way more power to you Scott & co I'm just nit picking a great site & thanks so much for DCSKI!
snowcone
September 13, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Andy:

Try searching here ... http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=26209 ... We have spot checked and compared the top of mountain conditions with Elkins and Hot Springs a number of times using our Kestrel 4000 (really cool handheld weather gadget) and have found the Hot Springs weather is often much closer to Snowshoe values during the ski months.

You can also extrapolate rough temperature data from Elkins at 2000 Ft.. Rule of thumb is subtract 1-2 degrees F for each additional 1000 feet of altitude.
snowcone
September 13, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Andy:

Try searching here ... http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=26209 ... We have spot checked and compared the top of mountain conditions with Elkins and Hot Springs a number of times using our Kestrel 4000 (really cool handheld weather gadget) and have found the Hot Springs weather is often much closer to Snowshoe values during the ski months.

You can also extrapolate rough temperature data for Snowshoe from Elkins at 2000 Ft.. Rule of thumb is subtract 1-2 degrees F. for each additional 1000 feet of altitude.

Again, learning to read the flight service weather reports gives you about the best granularity for 6-24 hour weather prediction for a given area.
snowcone
September 13, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
OOPS! .. sorry, pushed the button twice. seems that if the post you are submitting rolls over to a new page when the current page is full, the software doesn't return you to the new page but the old one therefore making it seem your comment didn't get posted.

Scott ... is this a know issue?
Murphy
September 13, 2004
Member since 09/13/2004
618 posts
Long time lurker here who was finally inspired to register by this fancy new upgrade to the web site.

If you're looking for more accurate weather info for more remote areas, try this link: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/data/RLX/HYDCRW

It has several stations in the Charleston region. Even includes elevation. Unfortunately, it doesn't update very often.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

Join the conversation by logging in.

Don't have an account? Create one here.

0.14 seconds