Weather plays a major role for skiers and riders around the globe. Climate change is happening and we are all hunting for where the snow is deepest. If you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s important to keep on eye on the weather as it directly effects snow and avalanche conditions.
Weather forecasting is by no means an accurate study, but some mountain weather forecasting websites are better than others.
Here are some of the ones we rely to help us find the powder.
Upon first click, NOAA offers up the goods for any searchable town in the US. It provides quick and accurate weekly snapshots of the weather that’s easy to read with a quick glance.
A bit more searching will bring up Radar and Satellite Images, Hourly Weather Graph, Forecast Databases, and more. When you really explore NOAA you can find Daily Weather Maps, Hazard Maps, Mesonet Observations, and so much more.
What I really like about NOAA is the topographical map on the right side of the screen. Scroll around and click anywhere on the map for a detailed forecast at that destination.
If OpenSnow forecasts the weather near you, be sure to bookmark the site. OpenSnow’s forecasts are written daily by weather forecasters and the results are typically very accurate. It’s also important to note that OpenSnow forecasts generally require reading, as they are written more like an avalanche forecast than most weather sites. High quality resource.
Meteoblue is one of my favorite sites. They offer worldwide forecasts that seem to be accurate just about anywhere – at least so far. It’s easy to get all the info you need from Meteoblue quickly – wind, temp, precip, cloud cover, snow forecast, sunset/sunrise, radar. It’s all graphable and a there is a paid version if you want more info.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) and Snow Course Data and Products from many different mountain locations across North America. The info is very data driven and must be interpreted by the reader, but if you know to read it, it’s invaluable.
These remote study plots provide information like Air Temp, Precipitation, Snow Water Content, Snow Depth, Barometric Pressure, Relative Humidity, Soil Moisture, Soil Temperature, Solar Radiation, Wind Speed/Direction on an hourly basis. If you’re a snow dork, you’ll love it as long as their is a SNOTEL site near you.
Snow-Forecast gets mixed reviews from most people. It offer resort specific weather forecasts for every ski resort in the world. It’s easy to quickly grasp the forecast in a quick glance. It provides freezing levels, max/min, relative humidy, snow forecast, maps, graphs, and more.
What’s great about Snow-Foreast is that it offers Base, Mid, and Top elevation forecasts for each resort. This way you know where to go for the best snow. Sometimes it does lack accuracy (especially in Chile. Try Meteored.cl for Chilean forecasts), but the creators are happy to get feedback and tweak their future forecasts to improve accuracy.
Also check out their sidekick site, Mountain-Forecast for peak specific forecasts – a very cool backcountry tool.
It doesn’t get too much easier than this. A big maps tells you where it snowed the most. Click the number, which is based near a resort, and get a quick and dirty forecast with not much detail.
This is the ideal site for storm chasing. Where did it snow and how much?
Local Avalanche Center
No one has a better grasp of weather in a specific area than the local avalanche center. Learn more from Avalanche.org. Find the avalanche center near you and bookmark the site:
AK – Alaska Avalanche Information Center
AK – Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center
CA – Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center
CA – Mt Shasta Avalanche Center
CA – Sierra Avalanche Center
CO – Colorado Avalanche Information Center
ID – Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center
ID – Payette Avalanche Center
ID – Sawtooth Avalanche Center
MT – Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
MT – Missoula Avalanche Center
MT – Flathead Avalanche Center
NH – Mount Washington Avalanche Center
OR – Wallowa Avalanche Center
UT – Utah Avalanche Center
WA – Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
WY – Brider-Teton Avalanche Center
Canada – Canadian Avalanche Center
New Zealand – New Zealand Avalanche Centre
India – Gulmarg Avalanche Center
Europe – European Avalanche Warning Services
Japan – Japan Avalanche Network
A local source is almost always the best place to get the local forecast. Find websites focused on your general area and tune into what they have to say. By using specific landmarks, patterns, and techniques, you’ll get the most accurate forecast available. Two good examples are:
1. MountainWeather.com is a great example for a resource that only focuses on Jackson, Alaska, and the Himalayas. There are plenty of others. Share your local resources in the comments below.
2. SW MT Winter Weather focuses on SW Montana.
There are plenty of other options out there. Tell us ones that you like in the comments below.
There are plenty of places to get the weather. The Weather Channel app on your smartphone, the local resort’s webcam, or in-depth websites like this one from UW. Choose your weather sources based on your forecasting skills and time frame.
The weather is why we get to make turns in the mountain. Bookmark some of these sites that you find most useful. Learn how to interpret weather data and patterns to see when the next big snow is coming or when the avalanche danger is high. One great way to learn about Mountain Weather is to pick up a book called, Mountain Weather by Jeff Renner. It’s a great resource for aspiring ski bums.
Play safe and pray for snow!