From how we report to when we report our snow—snow reporting at Breck is a science. Read our frequently asked questions to learn the in's and out's of snow reporting at Breck.
Breckenridge Weather Forecast
A 20 percent chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 30. West wind 10 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.
If you ever have a question, concern or notice an inconsistency, please contact us immediately at email@example.com.
Daily snowfall measurements are made on a flat white board with a stake on it that is graduated in inches. The height of snow can be read directly from this stake at 5:00 AM each morning. After each 5:00 AM reading, the board is swept clean. The height of snow on the board at any time is therefore the amount of snow that has fallen since the previous 5:00 AM sweep.
In addition to the 24-hour snowfall measurements, we also record the settled base snow depth each morning at 5:00 AM. This figure is read from a permanent stake that measures height of settled snow above the ground. Reading this stake is a bit more complicated due to fact that a settlement cone typically forms around the permanent stake since heat from the stake itself causes the snow next to it to melt or settle faster than it would in a regular field of snow.
Base depths are therefore read as the level of snow outside the influence of the settlement cone, or about 2 feet from the stake. To make this measurement consistently, the patroller averages the height of snow against the stake in front of and behind the stake.
At Breckenridge, we are committed to reporting our snow accurately and transparently, according to strict standard operating procedures for the industry. Although measuring and reporting snow is a simple and straightforward process, interpreting what the snow report means to the skier can be challenging. With 2,901 acres spanning five peaks and 3,400 vertical feet of elevation, Breckenridge Ski Resort is a vast area. Snowfall from each storm can vary widely across our mountain, but reporting standards and consistency require that we measure snow at a single location every day, season to season.
Our snow reporting location is in the Back Bowls on Peak 8, near the bottom of 6-Chair. At 11,237 feet, this site is almost exactly at the middle elevation of the resort (which spans from 9,600 ft to 13,000 ft). Most resorts report from within the upper third of the their mountain's elevation. The snow stake you see on our web cam is located at this site, and this is the single location where we record the official snowfall data that is passed on to the media. We have been recording snow at this location for more than 20 years.
A small team of specially-trained ski patrollers reads the snow stakes just before 5:00 AM each day. Therefore, the official 24-hour snow report is the amount of snow which fell between 5:00 AM one morning to 5:00 AM the next day. We also read our stakes at 4:00 PM each day. That way, we can also report the amount of snow which fell overnight (from 4:00 PM to 5:00 AM) which is a fraction of the total 24-hour snow total. Most skiers like this report since it shows the amount of snow which fell after the area closed the day before. It is the fresh snow which hasn't been skied yet.
In addition to the 24-hour snow stake, we also have a base stake that records the amount of snow on the ground at this site. Base readings are always much lower than the total amount of snow that has fallen over the season due to settlement, melting, and sublimation.
Before 5:00 AM. Usually the ski patroller calls the Communications Center between 4:45 AM and 5:00 AM.
The amount of snow at the stake is recorded into our database which is then automatically delivered to the websites, email system, text message system, and third party websites like OpenSnow.com and OnTheSnow.com.
To get the most accurate recording of snowfall, it is important to measure the snow in an area that is not overly affected by external factors such as wind drifting or settling by the sun. The snow stake therefore must be in a flat spot that is out of the direct sun and protected from the wind to avoid drifting and scour.
Industry standards for ski area snow reporting require that official readings be made from no higher than the lower portion of the upper third of elevation of the resort. Our stake is situated well below this standard at 11,237 feet which is almost exactly at the middle elevation of our skiable terrain.
We work with the CoCoRaHS measurement system to ensure our snow stake is built properly and in the right place.
Following industry standards, we report a base of 18" when the majority of skiable terrain is on manmade (snowmaking) snow. It is assumed that at least 18" of artificial snow is present on these trails even when the natural snow base is less than 18".
Even in early season, ski patrol still records natural settled base for our records, but when most of the open terrain is on manmade snow, we report 18" since that is what our customers will be skiing on.