How many powder days will Colorado skiers get this winter? Depends on who you ask |

How many powder days will Colorado skiers get this winter? Depends on who you ask

Mountain weather expert says any forecast beyond five or 10 days is just “speculation”

John Meyer
The Denver Post
A skier enjoys 3 inches of fresh snow March 6 at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
Ian Zinner/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

COLORADO — If your NFL team is touted as one of the top Super Bowl contenders before the first aspen leaf begins to turn, would that be enough for you to reserve a hotel room in the Super Bowl city and hunt for tickets to the big game?

Most people wouldn’t, because way too many variables can come into play between now and February. And that’s why meteorologist Joel Gratz, who specializes in Colorado mountain forecasts, puts about as much stock in long-range snow predictions as he does in preseason Super Bowl odds.

Gratz, founder of a highly regarded ski and snowboard weather forecasting and reporting service called OpenSnow, believes the only forecasts worth betting on are those that predict what will happen five to 10 days out. Anything beyond that, even by highly trained meteorologists with access to sophisticated computer models, is just educated guesswork as far as he is concerned.

“It’s like projecting who’s going to be in the Super Bowl at the start of the season,” Gratz said. “It doesn’t really matter, because you’re going to watch the games anyway, and you’re going to see a lot of surprising things happen. And maybe, a few things that you think could happen will actually come to fruition.”

Nevertheless, we’re a week into September, the Labor Day ski sales are behind us, skiers and snowboarders are starting to dream about powder turns, and two or three ski areas may be making snow a month from now. Or so we can hope.


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