Joel Gratz + predicting ski powder

Boulder’s weather wizard talks truths in the clear-as-mud world of meteorology

By Marc Doherty Oct 20 2018

Editor’s Note: We have collaborated with Ignite Boulder to share some of the stories from the Boulder nonprofit’s recent 10-year anniversary show at Chautauqua auditorium. In this feature, Joel Gratz brings some clarity to the unpredictable world of weather.

Joel Gratz

Joel Gratz loves skiing. And anyone who loves skiing, loves the weather.

The difference between Joel and the rest of us powder hounds is simple — Joel gets the weather.

Starting in 2007, Joel put his weather comprehension to the test by sending powder-predicting emails to a small group of ski buddies. This email list grew into the nationwide authority on snowfall prediction,

Now with over 2.2 million annual users, the site is nailing down local forecast, inch-by-inch, from Tahoe to Vermont.

But here in Colorado, forecasts are custom-tailored by Gratz and his years of experience tracking and predicting the variety of storms hitting our high country. If a storm is going to drop 18 inches at Steamboat, but only a dusting at Keystone, odds are Joel will know.

Gratz enjoys traveling the state and sharing his weather wonders and stoking the powder fever as winter starts knocking on our mountain’s door.

Once the powder days are upon us, you are more likely to find him on a chairlift identifying snow crystals.

As Gratz will quickly tell you, predicting the weather is a difficult task and meteorologists subject themselves to scrutiny from the masses. After a favorable forecast turns into a dud, you can expect the jokes to pour in.

Return to the stage

No stranger to the Ignite stage, Gratz shares a few fun facts about weather while using his time under the spotlight to clear up the misconceptions that plague amateur weather know-it-alls.

A message to us Coloradans — turns out waiting 15 minutes for the weather to change anywhere will yield surprises.

Marc Doherty

Marc is BLDRfly’s adventure reporter. When not hunting powder, Marc can be found exploring area trails, hanging out with his dog Chelsea and running Rio’s rooftop.