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Follow the Forecast - Five Tools for Skiers and Runners
Every skier and trail runner follows the weather to some extent. What's already a nationwide topic of discussion becomes a whole different story to us outdoors enthusiasts.
No matter where you find yourself in the scale of "we'll see when we get there" to "I follow every model religiously", there are some incredible resources out there to make your life easier and help you plan your next adventures. Here are our five picks:
Avalanche Canada is a non-government, not-for-profit organization dedicated to public avalanche safety. They issue daily avalanche forecasts throughout the winter for much of the mountainous regions of western Canada. They provide a huge amount of information for free via their website and their app (which is getting a facelift this Winter).
Reading over the avalanche forecast every day takes a few minutes and it is the most powerful source if information for us weekend warriors. With new updates to the forecasting regions, Avalanche Canada is working to factor in regional variability better within mountain ranges. Don't forget to look at the "Problems" and "Details" tabs of your regional forecast for more in-depth information. And now you have no reason to miss a single day of forecasting thanks to the new "Archived Bulletins" module.
Avalanche Canada also has an awesome Mountain Weather Forecast with seven-day forecasting as well as tons of other useful information and even a tutorial! Precipitations, winds, radars, satellites, everything is on there and it's the best one-stop-shop for trip planning.
Windy is designed to provide adventurers and outdoors enthusiasts with the most accurate, slightly more elaborate weather forecast than just “hot or cold” — one including wind speed, direction and gusts, precipitation, pressure, and other features. All the main features are available for free. Windy exists via a website and as an app available on both Android and Apple.
With tons of visualization layers, forecasting models and local webcams, Windy isn't as simple and digestible as Avalanche Canada, but for those who like seeing what's happening real-time it's an essential to have on your cellphone.
FlowX is a great alternative to Windy for Android users. It is a very similar app, but the interface is a more user-friendly and there are more weather models available. A big advantage of FlowX is is the ability to easily compare models and to easily customize your data options and visuals to your preference.
SpotWX is an online tool that offers a range of weather forecasts for any location or “spot” you choose. When you choose a location on a map, you can view output from 10 to 12 different numerical weather prediction models. Viewing different weather models is like asking for a second or third informed opinion on what is likely to happen. If there’s a consensus of opinions, the outcome is more probable — if the forecasts are all different, there’s more uncertainty.
SpotWX is an awesome resource if you are a little more of a weather "nerd", or if you want to compare models for yourself to look at variability or different scenarios. There's this special something about being out there in the backcountry and seeing what model comes closest to reality...!
ARFI is for those who are always on the hunt for every snow plot, every webcam and every type of observation they can find to plan their next objectives. It is a geographic information system (GIS) dashboard that references tons of snow-related information. On the map are displayed tons of webcams, snow plots, ski area reports, weather stations and even snow profile "models" that use forecasting models to give an estimate of what the snowpack could look like. Don't take those for granted, but it's yet another source of information available for us enthusiasts.