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Waiting for snowflakes at Colorado ski resorts

Anne Z. Cooke, Tribune News Service on

Published in Travel News

From there, links to each individual site lead to the nitty gritty. Ever skied at Eldora, or Monarch, Wolf Creek or Powderhorn? Ever taken the kids to Howelsen or Sunlight? Colorado has more skiable mountains than Saturday Night Live has skits.

But without snow, no website helps. With weather patterns changing, snowfall is an increasingly dodgy topic. Depending on long range forecasts, maybe -- just maybe -- it's better to wait a little longer before booking lodging and lift tickets.

Ski resorts aren't weather forecasters, but do post ski conditions online, with current temperatures, past and recent snow levels, and sometimes even charts showing annual snowfall every month of every year for the past decade. Nonetheless, it's better to consult science.

If you're planning to ski more than two weeks in advance, advises former Olympic snowboarder Erica Mueller, at Crested Butte Resort, near Gunnison, Colo., "look for a science-based website, like www.opensnow.com." Founded by skier Joel Gratz, a Colorado-based meteorologist, the site has been monitoring weather forecasts and future storms for the last six years. "That's where most of the ski resorts I know go to look ahead," says Mueller.

Like most skiers, Gratz's search for the best powder snow began as a hobby. Then it evolved into a full-time occupation.

"What separates us from other sites is that we know what powder skiers like," says Gratz. "So we focus on which resorts are likely to get the next powder storm." After a year of testing, the site went online in November 2011, and so far, it's a success."

For more information on all things ski, from weather forecasts to package deals and late-season discounts, I go to www.onthesnow.com. When it comes to planning the best ski vacation ever, you can never know enough.

(Writer Anne Z. Cooke plans to ski the top indefinitely. Contact her at travelswithanne@cs.com; on Twitter at #anneontheroad; and on Facebook.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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