Padding the powder: Do resorts exaggerate?

Jason Blevins' story in Saturday's Denver Post covered the impact of mobile technology on snow reporting. In the process, it also shined a light on a question raised in the comments of a previous On the Edge post about Bob Berwyn's firing from the Summit Daily News for after criticizing the ski industry for exaggerating snowfall.

Blevins wrote a sidebar that looked at a Dartmouth study that compared government and resort data and found that resorts in New England tended to exaggerate weekend snow by nearly 25 percent:

Comparing data from government weather stations and reports from nearby ski areas in New England from 2004 to 2008, professors Jonathan Zinman and Eric Zitzewitz concluded that resorts increase their snowfall by 23 percent on weekends.

And resorts more dependent on visitors from nearby cities tended to have even more embellished "weekend effects" than more remote resorts, according to the study.

However, good cell coverage now shoots a gaping hole in the strategy:

Ironically, during the study period, a new iPhone application emerged that allows users to report their own snow observations at various resorts.

Suddenly, according to Zinman and Zitzewitz, "exaggeration falls sharply, especially at resorts where iPhones can get reception."

No such study has ever alluded to Colorado resorts fudging their numbers.

Blevins goes on to quote Joel Gratz of ColoradoPowderForecast.com who deemed Centennial State resorts "pretty accurate" in their snow reporting.

Anybody out there take issue with the snow reporting by Colorado resorts? Or is it spot-on? Leave a comment and let the world know.

gjeewaytee (HappyNew Year)'s Flickr photostream

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Peterson