A powder day on the slopes is a skier's and snowboarder's dream come true. Fresh, untouched powder provides an unparalleled experience on the mountain. But when skiers and snowboarders miss out on a powder day, it can be a huge disappointment. Not only do they miss out on the unique thrill of gliding through deep powder, but they miss the opportunity to improve their skills and make unforgettable memories.
Joel Gratz is a passionate skier who was all too familiar with the disappointment of missing a powder day. Determined to make sure others would not experience the same disappointment, he set out to create a solution: OpenSnow.
With OpenSnow, skiers and snowboarders can stay up-to-date on snowfall, ensuring they never miss a powder day again!
About Joel Gratz
Joel graduated from Penn State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology. He continued his educational journey by moving to Colorado and spending three years at the University of Colorado Boulder earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on entrepreneurship and a Master of Science in Meteorology.
The move to Colorado sparked Joel’s excitement in forecasting snowfall. He comments,
“If a report is off by a few degrees on temperature, nobody really cares, but if it’s off by five inches on a powder day, people really start to care. That’s a big deal for a powder skier.”
To further his weather forecasting knowledge, Joel spoke with individuals at the National Weather Service and Colorado Avalanche Information Center. He began shadowing them as they analyzed weather reports, learning a lot about Colorado snowfall. The knowledge Joel learned helped him better forecast snowfall to help skiers and snowboarders find their perfect snow day. To test out the success of his work, Joel created an email thread that he sent to his closest friends and family with predicted snowfall levels and resort suggestions to help them plan a perfect powder day. The thread was a success! After only two years, Joel began uploading his forecasts to an online blog called the Colorado Powder Forecast. His blog posts gained attention from local powder chasers, one of which connected Joel to his first business partners: Bryan Allegretto and Evan. By 2011, the trio expanded their operations and built out the framework for what is now OpenSnow!
The OpenSnow team consists of many freelance meteorologists and bloggers who assist in generating blog content and forecasts worldwide. OpenSnow has not publicly disclosed its exact number of subscribers, but it is estimated to total over three million!
OpenSnow is an essential resource for powder snow enthusiasts, as it provides the best up-to-date snow forecasts, weather reports, and ski resort information. The platform offers detailed forecasts for over 2,000 ski resorts globally. Through the OpenSnow website and mobile app, users can access ten-day weather forecasts, historical snowfall data, and ski resort webcams, to get a sense of current mountain conditions. Additionally, OpenSnow provides various blog posts and articles about ski culture, gear reviews, and trip planning advice. The mobile app can also send push notifications for snowfall alerts and allows users to track specific ski resorts of interest.
Although OpenSnow is free to use, the team offers an All-Access subscription to unlock even more of its features. See the full list of features below:
New users can sign up for a free 14-day trial of OpenSnow’s All-Access subscription. Follow this link to create your OpenSnow account, or download the OpenSnow app available for iOS and Android!
OpenSnow also has a sister app, OpenSummit, that provides detailed weather information about various mountain peaks in the United States. OpenSummit is for individuals who love adventuring through hiking, biking, and trail running. The platform is a great resource for individuals planning their next adventure, as they can see current trail conditions, get the most accurate weather forecasts, and view local air quality information.
Joel provides the following advice for current students and aspiring entrepreneurs,
“Passion and patience are important, and you can’t shortcut either one. You have to really really really love what you’re doing, and have the patience for it. Most things take a long time but are pretty worthwhile, and it's nearly guaranteed if you don’t stop.”
As for our fellow powder hounds, Joel shares the following advice,
“Have an idea where you want to go, then update that idea everyday. Don’t pull the trigger until the last minute. If you really want good, Instagram worthy snow you need to check the forecast, identify the trends, see how the forecast changes, and then lock in your destination the night before or morning of. I change my mind all the time.”
In my family, Joel is a skiing icon. Growing up, my dad followed Joel's blog closely, and used his forecasts to chase fresh powder across Colorado. Some of my favorite memories skiing with friends and family have been thanks to Joel's weather expertise. I am excited to share Joel's story with others and to be able to highlight the impact that OpenSnow has had on my personal ski journey.
This article holds a special place in my heart as it is my final piece for the Deming Center. I am excited to continue on to the next chapter of my career and to take the valuable skills and knowledge I gained at Deming with me. I would also like to welcome our new student marketing intern Lauren Gwen. I believe Lauren will accomplish great things and I am excited to see what innovations she will bring to the Deming center.