Tap and app
Plenty of digital resources provide weather reports and forecasts for skiers who can make tracks at the drop of a flake. The new and free OpenSnow app, for instance, lists snowfall data by accumulation and resort location, while providing analysis from forecasters on the ground. And websites such as Snow-Forecast.com let visitors sign up for e-mail alerts and include links to resort webcams for proof that blizzards are in progress. Social media can also be handy: #PowderDay is a skier staple on Instagram and Twitter.
Check the stats
Certain meteorological measurements, detailed on websites such as OnTheSnow.com, reveal the reliability of conditions at resorts you may be considering for a pre-booked trip. One is total snowfall, and in North America, dozens of resorts receive more than 10 metres between December and April. Another is average base depth, and if this exceeds two metres, you can almost guarantee solid snow coverage. For powder, the number of annual snowfall days is a decent indicator – anything above 80 means it snows more often than not.
Check the snowmaking
Skiers love to wax poetic about natural snow, but the man-made stuff is still vastly superior to muddy slopes. Many North American resorts, especially those in the generally less snowy east, feature snowmaking on more than 80 per cent of their terrain. Another factor is the temperature at which snow can be made; at Ontario’s Blue Mountain, for instance, fake flakes can fly when it’s a mere minus-2 C.
Use a multiresort pass
Alpine weather can be fickle. Resort A gets buried, while Resorts B and C, both just a few kilometres away, receive little or no snow. That’s when a multiresort pass comes in handy. By heading to major ski destinations such as central Colorado, Lake Tahoe, B.C.’s Powder Highway or the Alberta Rockies, you can use the appropriate Epic, Ikon, Mountain Collective or Powder Alliance pass to bounce between resorts depending on the snow they receive.
Purchase CFAR insurance
“There isn’t enough snow” won’t cut it with most forms of trip-cancellation insurance, but with “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage you don’t need a reason to pull the plug on a washed-out ski holiday and rebook at a snowier spot. This type of pricey coverage, which typically returns around 75 per cent of money spent, is offered by Canadian providers such as Manulife.