By Steve Benson
We’ve all been there. The forecast calls for an overnight dump but the storm somehow jukes, leaving clear skies, cold winds and broken hearts. If you’re like me, obsessed with sliding on snow, you’ve been disappointed by the snow Gods too. And there’s not much you can do about it. Or is there?
The National Weather Service1 does a great job of forecasting, but there are limits to their reach. They can’t take the time to pin-point what a storm is going to do in each individual drainage or isolated area. But you can. Which is why I try to cut out the middle man–the weather man. That way, when that forecasted blizzard doesn’t materialize, it is–as the song goes–nobody’s fault but mine.
After all, orographics, a primary factor in mountain weather, “vary tremendously from one valley to the next, and one drainage to the next,” says Chris Lundy, director of the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center2 in Ketchum, Idaho. So if you want to predict what’s going to happen on a micro-level, it requires thinking on your own, and familiarity with the local lore.
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