Skiers and snowboarders across the state probably have more knowledge about the forecast than most people, since their favorite winter hobby revolves around the weather. We keep our eyes glued to the television when there is a big storm coming, in order see if the local weather man will bless us with the words we all long to hear. Cold front. Big storm. Powder. Backcountry skiers are even more voracious weather watchers, as slight differences in temperature, wind speed, and snowfall amounts can make or break a ski day because of avalanche danger.
Television is okay for knowing if there’s a huge dump in the next few days, but the T.V. only gives an overall picture of what to expect. Skiers need more pinpointed information specific to the Wasatch Mountains to make an informed decision on whether or not it’s worth heading for the hills (read: calling in sick to work).
The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Salt Lake City has streamlined their webpage this season to make it easier for skiers and snowboarders looking for the most up-to-date and accurate forecast. On their snow page, they’ve combined the Utah Avalanche Statement, Mountain Weather Forecast, Avalanche Warnings, Cottonwood Canyons Forecast, and the Provo Canyon Forecast. In addition, They’ve listed every linkable weather station in the Wasatch that provides hourly updates on temperature, snowfall and snow depth.
The NOAA has also created a sort of online television weather segment called the Weather Event Briefing. If there is a storm on the horizon, they’ll put together a narrated slideshow with detailed information on what to expect from the approaching storm.
In addition, the NOAA has even optimized the Salt Lake City webpage for mobile phones with the Wasatch Snow Information on the Go feature. So if you’re driving up the canyon and the snow starts falling, you can whip out your phone to check to see what’s happening.
All of us who enjoy winter recreation in the Wasatch, whether skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, are lucky to have the NOAA website as a resource to make wise safety decisions before driving on icy roads unprepared, or entering avalanche terrain. Of course, for many of us, it’s also a useful tool to find out if it snowed enough to justify calling in sick to work.