Chances are, if you can’t sleep in anticipation of the next day’s big dump, neither can Joel Gratz. You’re likely going to wake up and read his forecast before deciding where to ski, so have another beer and leave the sleeplessness to the weatherman.
Gratz is the founder and chief meteorologist at OpenSnow.com, a weather forecasting resource that answers winter’s most important questions: where is the deepest snow, and just how deep is it? If he wasn’t such a powderhound himself, Gratz may have found himself working for a big-name weather outfit, but he’s one of the lucky few who’s decided to marry passion to profession.
Like any good meteorologist, Gratz uses radar, satellite, weather models and weather stations for data collection. None of them are necessarily specific to snow or contain information that only Gratz is privy to, but he forecasts on the micro-scale, taking one particular aspect of the weather and going over it with a fine-tooth comb.
“The key difference between meteorologists is how we interpret the information,” he says, “and, how we communicate our forecasts.”
Gratz’s interpretation draws from both the professional and the personal. He studied meteorology at Penn State University, then moved to Boulder for an MBA and a master’s in environmental studies. When he found that the post-graduate working world didn’t quite measure up to his “obsessive” interest in the weather, Gratz put his after-hours energy into analyzing data and what it meant for prospective snowfall. Too stoked to keep the news to himself, Gratz broke it all down into skier-friendly language and sent the forecasts to friends on an email distribution list. The forecasts went online at ColoradoPowderForecast.com in 2009 and became OpenSnow.com a few years later. Now, Gratz has added forecasters all over the country and even the world—the site added “daily snows” for Japan, Canada, and Europe this year.
Like your primary care provider (who you hope has some actual health-care experience to go with the passed-the-boards credentials), Gratz credits his forecasting prowess to “years of experience forecasting and going out to ski all over the state. This helps me to know which models to trust, which models not to trust and how to adjust the model forecasts.”
If there’s actually a friend you want on a powder day, it’s Gratz. No other weatherman is this stoked.