Evan Thayer: Bringing Us Utah Powder

Evan Thayer: Bringing Us Utah Powder

Tom Kelly

By Tom Kelly \ December 19 2023

It’s early season at Alta. OpenSnow forecaster Evan Thayer has left his meteorological screens in the hotel and is bashing his way down some fresh powder under the Wild Cat chair. Life is good. If there is anyone we tens of thousands of Utah skiers owe a ‘thank you’ to, it would be Thayer, a weather nerd who hadn’t really planned his career path this way, but is thankful his former powder alert email list has turned into life as Utah’s snow forecaster.

OpenSnow forecaster Evan Thayer does some product testing at Alta Ski Area (Alta Ski Area photo)

The tools we have today to forecast weather are quite remarkable. The data availability and the scientific knowledge to analyze it are stunning. And that’s what Thayer does every morning, beginning at 4 a.m., crunching numbers, studying maps and putting out a meaningful forecast by the time we’re packing the SUV with skis at 7 a.m.

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Thayer is making his third appearance on Last Chair here in season 5. He was the episode 3 guest in the debut season of the podcast back in December 2019.

Evan Thayer Podcastjpg
OpenSnow forecaster Evan Thayer at his podcast control position at home

In this episode, Thayer dives back into his past, growing up with a passion for weather going to CU-Boulder to study and ski, and finding his way to The Greatest Snow on Earth® here in Utah.

It’s an insightful episode that explores his past and the popular weather app OpenSnow.

Well, Evan, how was your birthday at Alta?

Every early season I like to do a little staycation in Little Cottonwood Canyon. So I had a little birthday staycation at Goldminer's Daughter Lodge. I knew there was a big storm coming. I knew I could get a room for a reasonable rate. And rather than deal with getting up early and getting up the canyon, it's kind of nice to wake up to fresh snow up there in Little Cottonwood Canyon, roll out of bed, get some breakfast and just trundle out to the lifts.

Were you a weather nerd as a kid?

I was always a weather nerd. I was the kid who, back in the days prior to having internet, would set a cooking timer so I could run inside from playing with my friends and see the local on the eights on the old Weather Channel because that's when you could see the local radar.

Evan Thayer skiing a deep snow day at Alta Ski Area (Alta Ski Area photo)

You were in the early group of forecasters when OpenSnow was formed. How has it evolved?

It's grown a lot. It started as mostly three regions, and now we have, I don't know, 15 to 20 forecasters around the world writing daily snow forecasts. We've grown the product itself to have all sorts of different maps and overlays and different features you can use. Last year we launched Forecast Anywhere, which was a huge undertaking, but it allows a user to click on any point in the world and get the same quality forecast that you would get for, say, Park City or Alta. For any point in the world. You can see an hour-by-hour forecast for the next ten days.

How has that expanded the usage?

We have evolved as an app where I think traditionally it was all about powder – it was all about skiing. And if you ask me what I care about, what's the most important to me? I'll still say powder and skiing. But people are using the app now for all sorts of different things in the summer. They're using it for their hiking trips. We have trail estimated trail conditions that tell them whether it's a muddy trail, a snowpacked trail, or a dry trail. So if you're planning biking trips, hiking trips or backpacking trips, you can use it for that. We have smoke overlays. So in wildfire season, and how that's going to affect the air quality. We are working to forecast that to make sure you have, again, all the information you need to get out and enjoy nature.

Athlete Ella Dingman takes a moment to enjoy the falling snow (Martha Howe)

“I'm not going to question it. I'm just going to accept that there's a higher power in that whale and just go with it.” 

OK, what about the whale?

That's a great question. The whale is unknowable. All I know is that they installed that on April 1, 2022, after that moment, it started snowing and it felt like it never stopped. So I can't explain it. So I'm not going to question it. I'm just going to accept that there's a higher power in that whale and just go with it.

How can you take advantage of modern forecasting along with the depth of knowledge of weather gurus like Evan Thayer? Take a listen to this episode of Last Chair.

OpenSnow is your trusted source for the most accurate weather forecast, snow report, high-resolution weather maps, and ski conditions information. Now you can get micro forecasts for anywhere, along with Evan Thayer’s valuable Utah snow reports.




Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| So for this episode of Last Chair, we've pried Evan Thayer away from the deep powder at Alta to come back on. And I think, Evan, this is your third appearance on Last Chair.

Evan Thayer: |00:00:10| That sounds right, Tom. Yeah, I think I think I did one alone, one with Jim Steenburgh, and I guess this is number three.

Tom Kelly: |00:00:18| Yeah. You were on, I think, season one. We were just starting this thing, and I can't remember if we recorded it up at Snowbasin. I know we photographed you up there, but you were episode three, and I'll put this |00:00:30| in the show notes. People can go check it out. So you've been doing this for a while?

Evan Thayer: |00:00:35| I have, yeah. And we're in season three. Or you said season three already, huh? Of Last Chair?

Tom Kelly: |00:00:41| I'm in season five now of last year. So you were season one – I know it's it's it's it's really crazy. It's really crazy.

Evan Thayer: |00:00:51| So the first one we recorded from Nathan Rafferty's office at the Ski Utah office.

Tom Kelly: |00:00:56| Oh that's right. He was out of town. We cleared off his desk |00:01:00| and made room for the microphones, so that was great. So you you had a chance to get out to Alta? Uh, the first weekend of December. Interesting weekend with a lot of weather. So tell us about that.

Evan Thayer: |00:01:14| Uh, you know, every early season I like to do a little staycation in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Usually you can get a lot better rates. Um, it also coincides with my birthday. So I had a little birthday staycation at Gold Miner's Daughter. I knew there was |00:01:30| a big storm coming. I knew I could get a room for a reasonable rate, and rather than deal with getting up early and getting up the canyon, it's kind of nice to wake up to fresh snow up there in Little Cottonwood Canyon, roll out of bed, get some breakfast, and this thing just trundle out to the lifts and you're there. So I opted to do that. And I had, uh, one extremely good day and two good days that just involved a little bit of patience.

Tom Kelly: |00:01:59| There's |00:02:00| never really a bad day, is there?

Evan Thayer: |00:02:02| There isn't. And that's what I was saying. I was hanging out with a lot of friends, seeing a lot of fellow skiers up there, and it was just camaraderie in the mountains. And even though there were delayed openings and maybe it wasn't the best snow, uh, later in the weekend, uh, just being up there in the mountains, I was having a very good time.

Tom Kelly: |00:02:24| For everybody that gets in their car every morning and follows the Red snake up the canyon. What's |00:02:30| the experience like when you're actually there? Gold Miner's Daughter must be what, one minute to the to the lift. What's that? What's that experience like?

Evan Thayer: |00:02:39| Yeah, to me, it feels like I'm just part of the mountain, I know. You know, Brandon Ott, who works at Alta. He once told me that if you spend a lot of time up there, Alta becomes your mistress. And that's. It's a weird thing. It might sound weird, but once you're up there and you're spending, you know, a night or two nights |00:03:00| up there, you kind of get it like you just feel so removed from the rest of your life, and it feels like, I don't know, it almost feels like a double life, some duplicity going on. But you're up there in the mountain, and it's just to me, it's an escape.

Tom Kelly: |00:03:14| It's amazing, and I imagine it's pretty nice to be up there first thing in the morning. And still the crowds aren't up there yet, and you've got first shot at anything new. And you did have some powder that weekend.

Evan Thayer: |00:03:25| I did, yeah, it snowed over four feet while I was staying up there, |00:03:30| so I had a lot of powder. And I'll tell you, there is nothing greater than hearing avalanche charges going off at 530 in the morning and waking up to that.

Tom Kelly: |00:03:41| That's pretty wild. We're going to talk a lot about weather on the podcast here, and reminisce a little bit about last year, and look ahead to this year, and hopefully, you're going to give us some prognostications. I know you'll probably be conservative, but hey, let's go nuts a little bit. But before we do that, uh, for folks who didn't meet you on one of the earlier podcasts, give us a little idea on how |00:04:00| you got into this weather thing.

Evan Thayer: |00:04:02| I, you know, I was always a weather nerd. I was I just spoke about this actually on the Blister podcast a few weeks ago, but I was the kid who, back in the days prior to having internet, would set a cooking timer so I could run inside from playing with my friends and see the local on the eight on the old Weather Channel, because that's when you could see the local radar. So storms came in. I grew up in Lake Tahoe. I could watch them come in on the local, |00:04:30| on the eights, on the Weather Channel, but I was always obsessed. I was kind of chicken in the egg. Was I a weather nerd or was I because I was a skier, or was I a skier because I was a weather nerd? I don't know, but I ended up going to school for it in Colorado. Um, I also did computer science, and then after graduating, I kind of graduated right around the time of the 2008, um, financial crisis came out, and I had this computer science degree. I got a job which wasn't easy to do at that time, and I thought weather was behind |00:05:00| me. And then, after moving to Utah, I was still a weather nerd, and all my friends quickly learned that I was the one who had the knowledge of when storms were coming in. And so, long story short, I started telling them when it was going to snow and that spread. I put it on a blog that grew in readership, and now, 15 years later, it's my full-time job.

Tom Kelly: |00:05:25| So how did all of these friends find you? I mean, some of them were your friends originally, but |00:05:30| how did all of these other fans find you?

Evan Thayer: |00:05:33| It was just word of mouth, 100% organic. I, you know, they would just be, oh, I know this guy who sends out originally it was an email distribution list, and he sends out this email every morning telling you when it's going to snow. And then I kept getting requests to be added to that. That's when I put it on the blog. And then I could see the analytics and I could see that every day it felt like more people were reading it. So I'm assuming it was just, hey, somebody's writing this really great |00:06:00| forecast and spreading it and sending links and like I said, next thing you knew, like I was joining OpenSnow and it's become my full-time job.

Tom Kelly: |00:06:11| Before we get to OpenSnow. When you were just doing your email, how big did your list get?

Evan Thayer: |00:06:17| I think it got to about 300 people before I decided maintaining it was too much of a pain, and I put it on a blog instead of doing an email list.

Tom Kelly: |00:06:28| And were you getting on the blog? Were you |00:06:30| measuring traffic? Do you have a sense of how many people were coming regularly to get the snow forecast from you?

Evan Thayer: |00:06:36| I still remember one big storm the first year I was doing this, it wasn't snowing too much. Then, in mid-January, we got a big storm cycle. And I still remember looking and seeing that 10,000 people had read my forecast one day. So I think it was usually about 3 to 5000 people, but I still remember breaking 10,000 and how crazy that sounded to me at |00:07:00| the time.

Tom Kelly: |00:07:01| Man, it still sounds crazy. That's a lot of people. It is. So tell us a little bit about OpenSnow. And first of all, how you got into OpenSnow and what the product is like today.

Evan Thayer: |00:07:13| Well OpenSnow, um, there are three original forecasters who were all writing separate forecasts similar to what I was doing. It was myself in Utah, Bryan Allegretto in Lake Tahoe and Joel Gratz in Colorado. Uh, |00:07:30| Joel met up with Andrew Murray, who is a University of Utah graduate from the atmospheric science department, and they had met, fortuitously, in Colorado, and they decided to start OpenSnow. And they quickly heard about Brian and I writing similar forecasts in Tahoe and Utah. And so in those first year or two of OpenSnow forming, and this was back in 2010, they reached out to Brian and I and pitched it as a concept. |00:08:00| And Brian jumped on board immediately. And I had Wasatch Snow forecast, and I was a little bit more reticent, and it took me about 3 or 4 years to finally come to the conclusion that these people knew what they were doing, and going with OpenSnow wasn't risking what I had built. And so eventually I took the plunge and I joined OpenSnow, I think, full time in 2014. And so now, for the past nine years, I've been writing exclusively |00:08:30| for OpenSnow. 

Tom Kelly: |00:08:32| How has the app grown in that time then? That's been almost a decade now.

Evan Thayer: |00:08:41| It's grown a lot. I mean, like I said, it started as mostly three regions. Uh, now we have, I don't know, 15 to 20 forecasters around the world writing daily snow forecasts. Uh, we've grown the product itself to have all sorts of different maps and overlays and different features |00:09:00| you can use. We launched last year, Forecast Anywhere, which was a huge undertaking, but it allows a user to click on any point in the world and get the same quality forecast that you would get for, say, Park City or Alta. For any point in the world. You can see an hour-by-hour forecast for the next ten days. Um, and you can save that as a favorite. I mean, you can save your house as a favorite and get a tailored forecast for your backyard if you want to using OpenSnow. So |00:09:30| we have continued doing what we originally did, which were writing these daily snow written forecasts. But we've added in so many more forecasts and so many more tools so that users can go out there and get this information for themselves and interpret it for themselves.

Tom Kelly: |00:09:45| Let's talk a little bit about that micro forecasting. This has always been fascinating to me. And I think a lot of people just think, okay, we're going to watch the weatherman, and he's going to tell me kind of what's moving across the state. But this precision forecasting, how |00:10:00| does that work?

Evan Thayer: |00:10:04| There's kind of different scales at which global weather models forecast. Um, and the broad, large scale is called synoptic scale. And that's kind of like overall weather patterns. But then you have this kind of like mesoscale and nanoscale, smaller scale level that models are high resolution. And they actually go in and they look at the overall weather pattern, but then they take all |00:10:30| these inputs that they're taking, and they apply it to things like topography, um, of an area. And in mountain weather, topography is crucially important because as we know, if we were just going by latitude and longitude, there wouldn't be much difference between the weather in Alta and Salt Lake City. But because of topography, we know that Alta gets 550in of snow in the winter and Salt Lake City gets maybe 40 or 50in. So there's |00:11:00| just critical elements of this mesoscale small-scale forecasting. And that's what we do. We're taking all of that large-scale data, and we're downscaling it into these high-resolution forecasts that apply to any place in the world.

Tom Kelly: |00:11:15| When? When we look at our OpenSnow app and we look at the forecast for the number of inches that we expect tomorrow at Snowbird or Brian Head or Deer Valley. Is that something that you're |00:11:30| interpreting this data and forecasting or is that generated by the automation?

Evan Thayer: |00:11:37| It’s both. We use automation. We have a proprietary algorithm that we use to forecast snow. Now that takes in several different numerical weather models of different that have different skill sets of different range. Takes them all in. And we've kind of tinkered with this until we got an algorithm that we think takes the right weight of each of those weather models and averages them. So that's an automated forecast. But |00:12:00| models aren't perfect. Forecast models have biases. And still it takes a human touch to look at these models and say, yes, this sounds good. Or no, I'm not quite trusting what I'm seeing. So it's a little bit of both, if you'll see, if you read my forecast, you'll see sometimes that I disagree with what our automated forecast is saying. Our automated forecast might be saying, oh, we're going to get, you know, 15 inches of snow at Alta. But I look at it, and I say, you know, this system, I've seen this happen before, |00:12:30| where sometimes we get more subsidence, subsidence or like stable air coming in after the front and snow turns off quicker than we expect. Or, you know, the wind lowers the snow-to-liquid ratios more than we expect, and we don't get quite as much. And there's a whole bunch of different things that can happen that can change a forecast. So it's both there is the automated generated part. And that's important. I mean, I can't be up 24 over seven looking at every model run. So the automated part is great for any changes that we see. |00:13:00| But then you need the human touch to kind of contextualize it and interpret it and see if there's maybe things that aren't quite lining up.

Tom Kelly: |00:13:07| You talked a little bit about the liquid content. I know that's something that skiers and riders have started to look at a little bit more intently the last few years. Tell us what how that's determined and what it means to us as skiers or riders.

Evan Thayer: |00:13:22| It's huge. I mean, it's the reason why people talk about how much snow, say, Lake Tahoe gets. But they'll |00:13:30| say, but the skiing in Utah is so much better. Like, I agree with that statement. And the reason why is because here in Utah, we typically have a lot less water content in our snow, which means it's lower density, it's fluffier, and most people would agree that's better skiing. Um, so when a storm comes in, it's not always just about, you know, how many inches of snow we're going to get. It's what is the snow to liquid ratio. How dense is that snow? Is it going to start dense and get fluffier through the storm, |00:14:00| or is it going to be what we saw earlier in December where we saw, you know, a really fluffy start to the storm with cold temperatures and then the snow got denser throughout. I mean, all of that, it has huge implications for not just the ski conditions, but also, you know, avalanche danger, etc.. So the snow-to-liquid ratio and how much water content is in the snow is very important. And that's just from the ski point of view. But then you think about like drought and actual like the hydrological impacts |00:14:30| of water. And what matters is not how many inches of snow falls it has, how much liquid is in the water. So when we're trying to fill the Great Salt Lake, what we look at is how many inches of liquid are comprised in that snowpack. So? So it's hugely important, Tom.

Tom Kelly: |00:14:45| My next question might actually be a little bit out of the meteorological sphere, but I'll throw it at you anyway. So I was up at canyons today and we've had pretty warm temperatures the last couple days and things have been relatively soft, but |00:15:00| it got a little bit colder. But there was a lot of wind today and it seemed to really dry out the snow. I know this is after it's fallen from the heavens and it's on the ground, but how much of a factor does wind have in drying out the snow and keeping it a little bit more manageable for us?

Evan Thayer: |00:15:18| It can. I mean, the way when you pass wind or air over any surface, it's going to dry things out faster. It's the same concept of if you have, you know, a leak in |00:15:30| your house, why they tell you to put a fan on it because you get circulating air that will dry it out faster, I think more so what it does is wind, rescuers, snow, and you kind of get a little bit of buff. And as that snow tumbles, it's kind of like putting a rock through a rock tumbler, right? It kind of turns it into more chalkiness. So a lot of times you get this chalky wind buff feel to snow that feels drier and feels, you know, like better ski conditions. So wind can definitely help in that regard.

Tom Kelly: |00:15:57| Back to the OpenSnow app. For those |00:16:00| who maybe haven't been using the app, what's the simple introduction to the OpenSnow app and what skiers and riders should take away from it as they plan their weekend?

Evan Thayer: |00:16:11| The OpenSnow app. The simple introduction is we are an app that is trying to give you the best day possible, and everybody has a different definition definition of what the best day possible is. But we're going to give you all the information we can give you exactly how ski conditions are, exactly |00:16:30| how the weather is, and how that's going to impact a day trip, a week's trip where you go all sorts of decisions. But we want to give you the most information and the most up to date information to allow you to have the best possible time in the outdoors, especially skiing or snowboarding.

Tom Kelly: |00:16:47| So I use it in a number of different ways, and I do use the micro forecasting aspect of it too. But for folks who haven't used the app, you can pick out your favorite ski area. You can look at how much snow is being |00:17:00| forecast. You even have a little bit of an hourly breakdown, you know, do you find and I know that you're out on the slopes or you're busy forecasting, but do you find that people are using the app during their days to kind of look and see, okay, what's the weather doing as the afternoon comes along?

Evan Thayer: |00:17:16| Oh yeah, we have evolved as an app where I think traditionally it was all about powder, it was all about skiing. And if you ask me what I care about, what's the most important to me? I'll still say powder and skiing, but people are using |00:17:30| the app now for all sorts of different things in the summer. They're using it for their hiking trips. We have trail estimated trail conditions that tell them whether it's a muddy trail or a snowpack trail or a dry trail. So if you're planning biking trips or hiking trips or backpacking trips, you can use it for that. We have smoke overlays. So in wildfire season, you can see if there's going to be smoky skies when you're out enjoying the outdoors, and if that smoke is going to be at the surface level level, or if it's going to be up higher in the atmosphere |00:18:00| and how that's going to affect the air quality. If it's hazardous for you to be out breathing that air, I mean, all anything you can think of, of how nature interacts with your recreation, we are working to forecast that to make sure you have, again, all the information you need to get out and enjoy nature.

Tom Kelly: |00:18:18| Last question before we go back and reminisce a little bit about the past season. That was so amazing. What's a typical day for Evan Thayer? Work in OpenSnow during the course of the season?

Evan Thayer: |00:18:29| Well, |00:18:30| there was a time where I would write a forecast. Then I would go up and ski and I would ski through the morning, and then I would run to my day job and work until late into the evening. And then I would wake up the next day and do it all over again. But I'm now in the mode where I write my forecast. I get up at 4 a.m., I write a forecast. If I'm lucky, I'm done by 7 a.m. and then it's all 100% |00:19:00| dad mode. From that point on. I have a three-year-old son, so things have changed a little bit. So I am no longer working a full time job. Um, aside from OpenSnow, OpenSnow is my full time job. But really, my full time job is being a dad to three year old son. And so that takes up most of my time. And then I try to ski when I can. So I went from skiing over 100 days a year to trying to get in 30 or 40 days a year, which still probably sounds like a lot to a lot of people. But for |00:19:30| me, I feel like the priorities have shifted a little bit. But this year it's all about getting my kiddo on skis.

Tom Kelly: |00:19:37| Beautiful. I was going to ask you about that. Has he been on yet or will this be the the debut year?

Evan Thayer: |00:19:42| He has been held down a mountain between my legs, which I would not exactly call skiing. But he has the sensation. He knows what it's about. And he spent at least an hour today pretending to ski in our family room. He has the skis now. He |00:20:00| puts his feet in, he gets into a tuck position, he pulls. He, you know, he does everything you could think of, of skiing because he's seen enough ski videos now that he spends all the time pretending. So I think here in the next probably 1 or 2 weeks, he's going to get on the mountain for the first time and truly start skiing and making turns for himself.

Tom Kelly: |00:20:21| I love it. That'll be so much fun. Okay, let's go back and reminisce a little bit. Now, a year ago, about this time a year ago, we had you and Professor Jim Steinberg |00:20:30| on the podcast to kind of talk about that awesome start we had to the season. Tell me, in all honesty, when we talked last December, did you ever conceive that Alta was going to hit 900in?

Speaker3: |00:20:43| No.

Evan Thayer: |00:20:44| I didn't conceive that Alta was going to hit 900in until a week before it happened. Maybe, maybe two weeks before it happened. Um, I kept thinking it had to stop. I mean, we were having a great season and we were tracking |00:21:00| well above normal through, you know, January. But I did the calculations in early February, and I was like, we would basically have to see a record next two months to come. Anywhere close to her all time records. And I was like, the chances of that happening happening are slim. Well, Tom, we saw we saw the snowiest month in in our history in March. I think Alta got something like 238in or something. |00:21:30| And, um, excuse me. Um, so I was completely wrong. And every time I thought, there's no way we can keep up this pace or increase this pace, we did. So I didn't think we were coming. I think I said actually about with about a week left in March, you know, if it we really get a lot of snow out of these next few storms. There's a very, very tiny chance we could get to 900in. But I thought maybe 5 to 10% chance. |00:22:00| And as we know, we got there.

Tom Kelly: |00:22:02| We sure did. Now, all of us want to know the scientific reason as to why we got all that snow, and also how we can do it again. But is there any science to explain what happened last year?

Evan Thayer: |00:22:15| Yeah, I mean, it's all science now. Is there a specific thing that happened? I don't know, we were in a stubborn pattern. Any time you have a really dry winter or a really snowy winter, it's because |00:22:30| you got stuck in a pattern. And last year we got stuck in a pattern in which we had a trough off the West Coast that was just sending tons and tons of moisture into California, into northern Nevada, across the northern half of the Great Basin, and into Utah and the Tetons. And with all of that moisture, we also got plenty of cold air, which you don't always get with these moisture streams. So we got |00:23:00| very cold, atmospheric rivers, one after another throughout the entire season. So it was just relentless. It was these, you know, really long-duration, moisture-laden storms that still had plenty of cold air. So it snowed down to even the lower elevations. It was the perfect setup. And it felt like any time that was going to end, um, we would have a break from it. We would get a break for maybe 5 or 6 days, and then it would just set |00:23:30| up again. So it was scientifically, it was just I can't say why it happened, but it just set up in the perfect way for us to get the amount of snow we did.

Tom Kelly: |00:23:41| All of us lay people started to pick up these buzzwords and phrases last year, and I think my favorite was atmospheric River. Now, I know that's not new, but a lot of us learned about atmospheric rivers. Tell us a little bit more about what that is.

Evan Thayer: |00:23:56| Atmospheric River is kind |00:24:00| of self-explanatory, explanatory, but it's a river of moisture through the atmosphere. So as you look and measure, um, saturation in the atmosphere, there are areas where it's much drier and there's areas where it's much wetter, and an atmospheric river is taking an area of very moist air, a lot of times down by the tropics or subtropics, and directing it in a somewhat narrow stream right towards land mass in this |00:24:30| case. So it was pointing the stream of moisture right at California, at the Great Basin, and at Utah. And so those streams of moisture just routinely set up pointed at us throughout the season.

Tom Kelly: |00:24:45| Yeah, it was just remarkable. Let's take a look at this season. I don't know. It's not like last year, but it's been pretty good. But is there you know, we're in the going into the second week of December right now. We've had some good skiing here in Utah. |00:25:00| Runs are starting to get open. Had a few powder days. What can you say about what we saw in November and into the early part of December? Uh, and hopefully it's something that'll give us some enthusiasm for what's to come.

Evan Thayer: |00:25:14| It's typical, and the enthusiasm comes from the fact that Utah is a very snowy place. It has the greatest snow on Earth and typical is good. Um, we are just above average. We're not quite |00:25:30| to where we were last year, and it's I hate to say it, but it's highly unlikely we're going to see a repeat. And so we're having a very typical start to the winter. We're seeing some storms. We're seeing the snowpack build. We're seeing terrain opening at the ski resorts. And typical is good. It's okay for us right now to go at what's an average pace. And honestly we're a little bit above average. So so I think that should give you enthusiasm that we're heading towards what looks like a pretty typical winter.

Tom Kelly: |00:25:59| As we look forward, |00:26:00| and I know you can't predict where we're going to be. And you couldn't have predicted 900in last year. But but are there any optimistic signs as we get into December? Or are there things that you see floating around? Do you follow the powder boy and see what that's going to send us? But anything in the in the heavens that can give a sense of what we can expect as we head up to the holidays.

Speaker3: |00:26:23| Yeah, I.

Evan Thayer: |00:26:23| Would say that so far we're not seeing any stubborn |00:26:30| ridging, and we haven't seen that so far. When we've gotten ridges of high pressure that have kept us dry. They've only been keeping us dry for maybe 5 to 7 days. And we're getting a pretty progressive pattern in which troughs are replacing ridges, ridges are replacing troughs. And so the optimism for me is that I don't think we're going to get into one of those stubborn ridge patterns where we go 3 or 4 weeks with little to no snow. Right now it looks like at most we might see a |00:27:00| week, maybe ten days with no snow. And that's pretty normal to have that. And so I have optimism just knowing that the atmosphere is moving, it's churning, things are happening. And it doesn't look like we're going to get stuck in any stubbornly dry patterns.

Tom Kelly: |00:27:15| Evan, I know I said that was the last question, but I have one more for you before we get on to Fresh Tracks. Um. The whale, I mean, I'm looking at the snow that we had last year, and I know that you've pointed to |00:27:30| the whale at ninth and ninth or technically ninth and 11th. What is the significance of the whale?

Evan Thayer: |00:27:39| That's a great question. The whale is unknowable. Um. Um. It. All I know is when they installed that on April 1st, 2022. After that moment, it started snowing and it feels like it never stopped. Um, so I can't explain it. I just happened to be maybe |00:28:00| the first person to notice the correlation that that went in. Everybody was talking about it and suddenly it was snowing again. So I'm not going to question it. I'm just going to, uh, I'm just going to, I guess, accept that there's a higher power in that whale and just go with it.

Tom Kelly: |00:28:17| And, you know, I've heard it's going to be the mascot for the Olympics, right?

Evan Thayer: |00:28:24| I put that out there. I mean, why not? I love it, I love it because it's hilarious. |00:28:30| I mean, if you put that out as the mascot for the Olympics, it's just kind of this weird, quirky thing that outsiders would look at, and they would look at our landlocked location and they would be like, why is a male a whale, the mascot? And I think it would attract attention. I think it would be funny. I think it's the kind of that irreverent feel that I would love to have as a mascot for the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Tom Kelly: |00:28:53| Are you one of those that's thinking about running a marathon around the whale?

Evan Thayer: |00:28:59| Uh, I will do |00:29:00| a two kilometer run around the well, and that's where I draw the line.

Tom Kelly: |00:29:06| It's a good place to draw the line.

Evan Thayer: |00:29:11| But I do love that people are doing that. I love that it's part of our culture. Like I love that so many people have taken to it. It's it just adds to our community.

Tom Kelly: |00:29:19| Well, with that, let's get on to Fresh Tracks.

Evan Thayer: |00:29:25| Was I've been asked this before and my answer I |00:29:30| don't think has changed. I think it is Eddie's High nowhere or Gunsight at Alta on the back side of Greeley Ridge.

Tom Kelly: |00:29:39| Beautiful. And what are you skiing on? What are your boards this year?

Evan Thayer: |00:29:43| I am skiing currently on the Black Ops Rossignol.

Tom Kelly: |00:29:50| Love those actually. Did you were you on them this weekend?

Evan Thayer: |00:29:53| I was on them this weekend. Yes.

Speaker3: |00:29:55| Yeah.

Tom Kelly: |00:29:55| That is a nice pair of skis. Um, your favorite snow reporting |00:30:00| experience from last year?

Evan Thayer: |00:30:03| My favorite snow reporting experience. My favorite snow reporting experience was when I was there in late March, and I was up there verifying totals for myself when we saw something like 70 inches of snow in three days. I got inner lodged at Alta. I skied the deepest powder imaginable, and there was no need to check actual snow reports because I was up there getting as deep as I could on my |00:30:30| skis, and that was my favorite one.

Tom Kelly: |00:30:32| I love that one. Um oh, here's one you probably aren't going to like, but your most memorable missed forecast of all time.

Evan Thayer: |00:30:42| Oh, that was last year too. It was the second week of December, which just happens to be when we're recording this. We had a storm come in, and I think I said there would be up to two feet of snow in the Cottonwood Canyons, and I think the highest I saw anybody go was 30in |00:31:00| of snow, which I was like, I'm not sure that's going to happen. And we ended up getting 65in of snow and about four days. And so it was more than double the highest forecast I saw. And I keep stats on how far off my forecasts are. And that ruined my standard deviation of how accurate I was for most of the season. It took me the rest of the season to get back to where I had been in previous seasons, because of that one storm that just blew my forecast so badly.

Tom Kelly: |00:31:30| But |00:31:30| even when you err on the low side, no one's going to care, right?

Evan Thayer: |00:31:35| Right. Uh Steenburgh, I'm going to steal his line. But the the secret to a happy life is low expectations.

Tom Kelly: |00:31:42| Absolutely. How about your favorite Utah TV weatherman?

Evan Thayer: |00:31:47| Uh, this has changed recently. I think Chase Thomason is my favorite.

Evan Thayer: |00:31:55| He has an enthusiasm for skiing that I love, and I've seen him do weather reports on the mountain while snowboarding |00:32:00| down. And I've tried to do that. And it is really, really hard to think and not run into somebody at the same time.

Tom Kelly: |00:32:08| I did see that last year. He is enthusiastic. And then the last one. Your favorite High West whiskey.

Evan Thayer: |00:32:15| American Prairie, so smooth and so delicious.

Tom Kelly: |00:32:19| Love it. Evan Thayer, OpenSnow, thank you so much for joining us. I know you've got to go get to sleep. You got to be up at 4 a.m. to tell us how much snow we're going to see across Utah. Good to see you. |00:32:30|

Evan Thayer: |00:32:30| Good to see you, Tom.

Tom Kelly: |00:32:35| Okay. Stand by.