So, you wanna be a weather forecaster

It's not just as simple as looking at the satellite image.

Learn how to predict powder with a mountain meteorology workshop coming up in Leadville, Colorado

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forecasting weather is tricky no matter where you are, and when it comes to the mountains of Colorado — in the middle of the continent and the intersection of several different storm tracks — all bets are off.

If you’re in the Sierra Nevada, you can count on big storms rolling in off the Pacific for reliable dumps, and when a N’or easter starts building off the Atlantic Coast, it’s only a matter of counting the days until it dumps in New England. But snowfall patterns in the Rockies are much more subtle, mainly influenced by the direction of moisture-laden winds rather than defined storm fronts and cyclonic storm.

Snowfall totals can vary widely in locations just a few miles apart. Take last season, for example, when areas like Monarch Pass reported above-average total snowfall for the winter, while Summit County suffered through repeated skunkings, especially early in the season. A big storm out of the Southwest can paste the San Juans and even the West Elks with several feet of snow, but leave Summit County high and dry.

If you’ve always wanted to learn more about Rocky Mountain weather and snowfall, now’s your chance.

The Colorado Avalance Information Center, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, and Colorado Mountain College – Leadville are sponsoring a three-day Nov. 10-12) workshop on Mountain Meteorology.

Morning sessions will provide a basic understanding of meteorological principles applied to weather in mountainous areas. Afternoon sessions will focus on using public weather information to create a local forecast.

Participants will interact with experienced weather forecasters and work in small groups to generate and present their own forecasts.  The workshop is designed for avalanche practitioners and avid recreationalists.

Anyone interested in mountain weather phenomena is welcome and no previous meteorological education is required.  Dr. John Snook, Mountain Weather and Avalanche Forecaster, CAIC-Boulder is the lead instructor for the workshop.  Other instructors include National Weather Service forecasters.

You can register online at the Colorado Geogolical Survey Fall of 2010 Mountain Weather Workshop Page.

Click here to learn more about prognosticating powder.


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