Larry Schick, The Grand Pubah of Powder


The Grand Pubah

Larry Schick (the self-proclaimed Grand Pubah of Powder) recently came to Crystal to let us in on a few of his forecasting secrets.  Actually, there really isn’t any secret to forecasting, only really cool graphs and models available through the National Weather Service that make it more fun. After my afternoon with Larry, I’m proud to say that I, too, can be a weather nerd.

Weather Models

The GFS model (short for Global Forecasting System) is a computer program that produces a mathematical model for upcoming weather. The GFS is free and available to all, unlike the IFS (the European model), and shows the “bigger picture”.  Check out this funny youtube video comparing GFS to IFS.  Warning: offensive language.

Bringing it Home to Crystal

For us at Crystal, when we want to know when it will snow and how much, we look west to the highs and lows in the Pacific.  Our best weather pattern is a low in the gulf of Alaska and a high over Hawaii. The low clocks cold air towards us and the high pushes moisture north into the flow.  The result is cold and moist–the perfect recipe for fresh snow in the mountains.

The University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department takes the GFS model and further tweaks it, producing the WRF, an even better model for our local terrain. They call it Initialized Pacific Northwest model runs.  These models show precipitation amounts, wind predictions, temperature predictions and about a million other aspects.  I imagine computer/weather geeks in Seattle entering in data and watching the model runs spew out information.  It must be like Christmas every day for those guys and gals.

Powder Alerts

Perhaps you don’t count yourself a weather nerd.  No problem.  Larry Schick will do the work for you.  He cares about powder skiing, so much so that he emails “powder alerts” to his followers.  If you don’t want to read the models yourself, just rely on Larry’s explanation.  Check him out at and sign up.  It’s worth it.

One more warning:  watching weather models (especially ones predicting a lot of snow) can cause 24 hour flu, scratchy throats, night chills, sweats, etc. and can further result in missed work days.  Fortunately said symptoms often do not interfere with subsequent face shots, first tracks and giggling into one’s collar, all results of calling in sick and heading to the mountains.

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