names first Winter Storm

Boulder, CO —

In a bold and unprecedented move, Boulder, Colo based startup beats The Weather Channel by naming the season’s first winter storm without first consulting the weather giant. The Weather Channel made headlines earlier this month by announcing a plan to name winter storms, with most names sourced from Roman or Greek culture.

But naming the first winter storm was not the only act of defiance of As CEO Joel Gratz explained, “We felt that naming storms in alphabetical order would simply perpetuate the anguish felt by many school children whose last names always got them called last in class. So we decided to base the names on personality rather than the alphabet. We’re proud to announce that the Thursday/Friday/Saturday storm bringing snowfall to mountains in the western US is going to be named ‘Xena Warrior Princess’, and we chose this name based on the forthcoming storm’s strength and independence, two traits shared by Xena.

When told of the news, long-time skier and Boulder resident Sari Levy expressed both anger and amusement. “I’m mad that this story isn’t fake and that actually named a storm Xena. I mean, I write fake news all the time at The Prairie Dog Blog and this totally could have been a popular fake headline. But, I will hand it to them. Starting the storm-naming-season with Xena is surely a good way to be mentioned in Techcrunch, which of course is the highlight of most startups since they usually fail before getting a second Techcrunch mention.”

Neither The Weather Channel or Xena (the storm) would comment for this story, but a spokestorm for Xena did mention that the Warrior Princess appreciated the attention and would not let her fans down. The spokestorm even offered to describe Xena’s plans to dump plenty of snow on the rocky mountains while simultaneously pissing rain on Kansas and other flatter states to the east.

To view the full forecast for Xena Warrior Princess, please see the Friday, October 12th Colorado Daily Snow.

Win tickets to see Jeremy Jones’ “Further” in Boulder on Friday, Oct 12th

I saw “Further” last week in Aspen and it absolutely blew me away. It was easily my favorite ski/snowboard movie in the last 10 years. Not only is the riding and cinematography amazing, but there was actually a compelling story and enough character development to keep me caring and interested throughout the whole movie. Watch the trailer here.

Since I liked the movie so much, I talked to TGR about helping them to promote it. And they readily agreed to provide a few tickets that I can give away.

I have a pair of tickets to the 7:00pm show and a pair of tickets to the 9:30pm show, both on Friday, October 12th at the Boulder Theater. Jeremy will be in the house and I’m sure he’d love to meet you:-)

To win, just take 20 seconds and answer this question. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, October 10th. Even if you don’t win, you should buy tickets for an upcoming show because the movie is that good.


The contest is now closed (Wednesday, October 10 at 2:45pm MDT). I’ll announce the winner as soon as they confirm and will email all of you who did not win just so you’re not left hangin’. Hope to see everyone at the show (look for me, a skinny guy in a black sweatshirt).

UPDATE (10/11/2012 at 8:30am MDT):

We’ve confirmed the winners! Patrick Fitzpatrick and David Clark and the lucky ones. Thanks everyone else for entering and (mostly) getting the correct answer: El Nino is the warming of the central Pacific Ocean.


Win a pair of tickets to the 80s Ski Party!

Want to win two tickets to the 80s Ski Party in Denver on Friday, October 19th, 2012? You should. It’s the best party. Ever. Seriously, it was amazing last year. Even if you don’t win, you should buy tickets and go. And make sure to be in your best 80s attire! I’ll be there along with a few hundred other amazing people.

To win, just take 20 seconds and answer this question. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 12th.


The contest is now closed (Thursday, October 11 at 4:45pm MDT). I’ll announce the winner as soon as they confirm and will email all of you who did not win just so you’re not left hangin’. Hope to see everyone at the party!

Update Thursday, October 12 at 5:30pm MDT:
And the winner is … Jordan Kunz. ConGratz, Jordan!


Beautiful images around Colorado

Amazing view from Pikes Peak this morning, where it’s 25 degrees with snow on the ground as the mountain rising above the low clouds.

And this visible satellite image. The white that you see around the state are low clouds or fog in the valleys and lower elevations. The exception is the white area in southeast Colorado, which are some thicker midlevel clouds leftover from the storm moving to the east.

State of the Snow

Here is an image showing how much snow is on the ground (as of April 3, 2012) compared to normal for this date. This isn’t necessarily comparing this year’s total snowfall to an average year, but is rather showing how much snow is on the ground right now compared to average. Good news to the north, not-so-good news to the south. Pretty typical of a La Nina season. It’s the areas in the middle — Tahoe, Utah, Colorado — that could go either way during a La Nina. Last year, these areas did very, very well. This year, not so much. Oh, weather…why do you tease us so?


The folks at Smartwool are pretty clever. Rather than just blasting out a message about their product (which are often baselayers and don’t have much visibility when you’re out and about on the mountain), they decided to have some fun. For a chance to win free Smartwool gear, you can “Strip to your Smartwool” by taking a picture of you in just your Smartwool. Yes, this often means having some fun at the top of a mountain. Of course this is a plug for our sponsor…but we also think it’s an awesome promotion that’s better than your standard advertisement. Smart thinking, Smartwool-ers!

The three-day forecast is where it’s at

The last few blog posts showed a contrast of different computer model forecasts for the Sunday night storm in Colorado. The European was the most consistent and therefore believable.

Well, today we have evidence as to why I generally wait until the three-day forecast before feeling like I’ve “nailed” the storm. While there were big differences between the models with the six day, five day, and four day forecasts, now looking at the three-day forecast — all the models basically agree. Again, the blue line is the the leading edge of the main part of the storm.

Now, compare these three-day forecasts to six-day forecasts, and you can easily see how the models were all in disagreement  six days out and then “magically” came into agreement when the storm was 72 hours (three days) away.

When planning your life around storms and snow, you can begin to get a sense of what will happen 5-8 days away — we knew there would be a storm Sunday into Monday, even a week out. However, to get the details right, you often need to wait until the storm is just 2-3 days away. But think about. Even if weather forecasting isn’t perfect, this is still an amazing feat of science! Enjoy the snow, Colorado. Looks like the cold air arrives between about 6pm-9pm Sunday night and most mountains get a few inches. The eastern foothills and southern mountains may do the best with 3-6″ if they’re lucky.

DIY Meteorology, Part 3

Here’s an update on the Sunday storm. It looks like the European model is the most consistent from run-to-run (notice how closely the blue lines are packed together), though with each forecast the storm is slowing down a bit (further west). The American model now looks a lot like the European, which gives more confidence that the European will be correct. The Navy and Canadian models are just out to lunch…

DIY Meteorology, Part 2

As I wrote about yesterday, there was some serious uncertainty between the models concerning the forecast for the Sunday storm.

Today, the picture is a little clearer. There will be much colder air (back to normal temperatures) moving into the northern half of Colorado on Sunday, with some snow.

Here’s the model comparison for the forecasted weather at 6pm on Sunday. This forecast was made Tuesday night (a 5-day forecast), and the blue line shows the leading edge of the colder air. If the blue line is further south, the storm is stronger.

But how do we choose between models? The European is usually the best and shows more cold air and storminess than the American GFS model for this storm.

One way to extend our analysis is to see which forecast model has been most consistent in its forecast. Consistency doesn’t always correlate to accuracy, but if a forecast model is consistent, it gives me more confidence in its forecast. Think of it like an NBA player. You never know when they’ll have a great shooting game and when they’ll miss most of their shots — life can be random sometimes. But if you pick the player that has the most consistent performance night after night, chances are you’ll have an easier time predicting how well they’ll do over the next few games.

So, how consistent are the models? The graphic below shows the 5-day forecast made on Tuesday night (thick blue line) and the 6-day forecast made on Monday night, 24 hours earlier (lighter blue dashed line). The closer these lines are together, the more consistent the forecast. The further they are apart, the more “all over the place” the model is and the less I trust it.

Well, sure enough the European model is the most consistent. The worst model might be the American, as it forecasted a strong, cold storm yesterday and today’s forecast now shows a much weaker storm.

The summary? I think the storm will come in like the European shows, with a decent amount of cold air for northern Colorado on Sunday and perhaps a few inches of snow.