The majority of wintersport enthousiast rely on third party resources for snowreports when arranging a ski holiday. Nowadays there are many wintersport and weather websites listing snowdepth and snowconditions for the most popular skiresorts.
While the effort of listing snowdata in itself is a good thing. The question is whether the quality of the data is keeping pace with this general development. Many people presume that data published on the internet is a guarantee of it’s quality.
With regard to snow data I can tell you this is definitely not the case. I was always very doubtful (as a researcher) about the ski statistics presented. It started with the TeleText snowreports (BBC, Dutch Broadcasting Company) back in the 90’s and my doubts grew substantially with the many snowreports popping up on the internet lately.
That’s why I conducted a research back in 2009 to verify the reliability and quality of the snowreports. Now, three year’s later I am very glad to present the results.
In this research Skiweather.eu included some 20 providers of snowdata:
ADAC (ADAC), ANWB (ANW), ARBOE (ARB), Bergfex (BER), Buienradar.nl (BUI), DirectSki (DSK), Dolomiti Superski (DOL), Dove Sciare (DOV), HighLife (HLF), IfYouSki (IFY), IgluSki (IGL), IlMeteo (BOL), J2Ski (J2S), MeteoOnline (MET), MySlopes (SLO), OnTheSnow (OTS), SkiCentral (SKC), SkiInfo (SI), Skiing.nl (SKI), Skiclub of GB (GB), Sneeuwhoogte.nl (SNH), Sneeuwhoogte.eu (SEU), SnowOnline (SNL), Snowplaza (PLA), WeatherOnline (WO).
Some ‘premium’ providers were not included because they provide snowdata based on the ‘nearest point’-principle or use higher aggregation levels (skiregion instead of skiresort). It is an extrapolation measure which results in inaccurate data. One exception here is Buienradar.nl (it is a nearest-point provider). Please note that Dolomiti Superski is more a source rather than a third party provider.
We checked the upper-slope snowdepth statistics presented during 90 days of the skiseason for a period of three years (2009-2011).
For 40 popular skiresorts we analyzed the data listed and compared it to the data provided by the tourist offices and cableway companies (source). Skiweather.eu has it’s own skiresort representative network and has a massive amount of snow data straight from the source.
We were most interested to find the best-fit cases, as well as lower-bound and upper-bound outlier cases. The former being snowdata providers exposing data close to the statistical mean of the benchmark as well as the source provider. The latter being snowdata providers who present data out of line with the trend of the others (including the source).
Furthermore we wanted to know which providers generally are (a bit) late with updating their data (inertia-cases). In our opinion this is a serious problem with the snowdata providers.
In the table below are the results of this extensive research.
The best snow-data provider is the Skiclub of Great Britain. They provide data which is in line with the statistical mean and the data of the tourist offices and cableway companies (75% of the cases). Moreover the inertia is in general amongst the lowest of all providers. However during the 2012-2013 winter season the Skiclub of Great Britain published data which is more out-of-line with the source data.
The following websites are not very successful in presenting up-to-date and accurate snowdepth information: ANWB, MySlopes, Highlife Magazine and Buienradar. The data of the ANWB is in 18% of the cases either to low or to high.
A curious case is Snowplaza.nl which presents data which is in line with the general trend, but in some cases is higher than the statistical mean. While it does follow the general trend of the best-fit line we expect they use measure points at a higher altitude (and/or do not make use of the mainstream sources). However it is a very suspicious case because it does not fit any of the snowdepth paths of the other providers. Lately, Snowplaza also shows signs of inertia and high-end scores.
Local orientated websites like ARBOE (auto club, AT) Dove Sciare (ski club, IT) and Dolomiti Superski (tourism, IT) provide pretty accurate data (at least for their regional focus).
The snow-data provider with the most cases of inertia is -once again- ANWB. The one with the highest inertia-factor (slowest in updating data) is MySlopes. MySlopes is also a snow-data provider which generates many outlier cases (over 10%, high-end).
Bergfex is probably the most extensive snow-data provider; it shows data for different parts of the skiresorts (Hausberg principle). In general it is pretty accurate, but it scores higher on the inertia factor (worse) than the Skiclub of Great Britain. During 2012-2013 Bergfex is actually scoring better.
Ranking the snowreport providers
|1. Skiclub of Great Britain||1. ANWB|
|2. Bergfex||2. MySlopes|
|3. IfYouSki||3. Highlife Magazine, (Buienradar)|
|4. OnTheSnow||4. Snowplaza|
|5. Sneeuwhoogte.nl||5. SkiInfo, WeatherOnline|
Outliers tend to occur more at the beginning and the end of the ski season. Mainly because providers do not bother to pull out-of-date snowreports offline at the end of the season. At the same time they update snowreports partially at the start of the season which results in a bizarre mixture of old and new data.
The general rule for snowreport providers should be to present only the snowreports of the current date. At all time!
If you are about to visit a skiresort don’t rely solely on third party providers for snowdepth reports (and snowforecasts!!); ALWAYS verify the skiing conditions on the website of the tourist board, cableway company or the local snowreport providers.
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