If sliding down mountains of snow is your thing, it’s quite possible that you’re keen on staying up to date with the current and upcoming snow conditions. As with most niches, this space too has been filled for those of us toting an iPhone or iPod touch and there are several free, and a handful of paid Snow Reporting applications out there for skiers and snowboarders.
All of these applications share the fact that they’re reporting the exact same thing — the weather. So the data (and the data sources) should all be similar, and are in a few cases, the very same source. Expect that every one of the following apps provides the basics:
- Snow in the past 1, 2, or 3 days
- Base Depth
- Snow Conditions
- Current Weather
- Number of Lifts and Runs that are open
This means that each of the following 10 apps needs to shine by the level of data they’re offering, a stunning UI, or most importantly, the extra features they may offer.
So with all of that in mind, and in no particular order, on with the snow!
Ski & Snow Report – Free
Above and beyond the standard data set, Ski & Snow Report presents dates for the past 4 snowfalls and the amount on each date. This is useful stuff in case it’s just outside of the recent snowfall category. Weather forecast and mountain webcams are also available within the app. And if you’re a powderhound, use the ‘Powder Points’ screen to see the resorts with the biggest dumps in the past 24 hours — listed from nearby to far away. The user interface to Ski & Snow Report isn’t typical so far as what most of us are used to on this platform, but it’s nice, and the response is snappy.
Colorado Snow Report – Free
I had initially planned to only look at apps that weren’t location specific, but the Colorado Snow Report has a sister app called Utah Snow Report, and they plan to expand to additional states/countries when they “get a single sponsor from a single resort” in one of those areas. Sort of a “Field of Dreams” alternative universe of ‘If you come, they will build it.’ Anyway, the interface is sparse — definitely not what you expect from a UI on an Apple (s aapl) platform — and not responsive at all. The high point is that it tells you the dates of the previous 2 snowfalls, gives you a webcam, and offers resort contact information with links that push to Safari and Google Maps.
iSki – Free
The data provided by iSki is pretty slim but each resort has buttons to view the mountain’s webcam and trailmap, though the latter never worked for me (even with a Wi-Fi connection). Each of these features launch within the app rather than to Safari, which is a plus in my book. In the settings you can enter 5 friends (and their cell numbers) and iSki will presumably give you relative location while nearby on the mountain. I wasn’t able to test this, but it sounds pretty interesting — if you’ve got experience with this, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Last, are SMS Powder Alerts — I got one just this morning, and Steamboat for 4 inches. The UI is pretty nice, though a bit sluggish.
Snow and Ski Report by REI – Free
If you remember the Lenovo Summer Olympics app from last summer, you’ll be primed for the quadrant user interface of Snow and Ski Report by REI. It’s not a bad UI, but the nature of the design limits the user to 3 resorts to track (while the 4th pane is for REI shopping). Adding my favorite resorts was fairly cumbersome, so I guess it’s good there are only 3 to configure…
The snow info is standard fare but you do get a 5 day forecast and webcams — both of which are viewable from within the app.
Out of the free apps here, The Snow Report by The North Face has the best looking interface, hands down. The data is pretty thin but you do get a 4 day forecast in the main view while the rest of the info (Map directions, Resort site, and full weather details from NOAA) all open external applications.
My favorite part of this application is the single download of trail maps — grab it once and it’ll be available for you next time you want it. Unfortunately, the actual run names were just small enough that I was unable to read them — your eyes may serve you better.
Snow Reports – $1.99
A very standard set of snow and resort information doesn’t make Snow Reports stand out from the crowd. The graphical interface however is quite nice looking, though branded with OnTheSnow.com, and you’d think they were the developer (Eddit Incorporated is). The snow report, weather report, and webcams all load OnTheSnow.com, but within the application’s own browser (so kind of thumbs down/thumbs up). The buttons to call the resort or check their webpage are clearly marked so that you know they’ll send you to the Phone or Safari if you tap them — a heads-up that I appreciate, at least in the case of Safari.
Snocator – $1.99
The ‘My Location’ feature shows where you are and lets you know how far you are from the nearest (hopefully) snow-covered hill. I suppose if you’re traveling, this could be especially useful. Resort Search is quick and effective, narrowing your results as you type the name of a resort, which is very nice indeed (a feature most of the others lack). You can view mountains alphabetically, closest, new snow, or favorites. Snocator gives you the most snow and weather data of any of the apps I’ve used — there’s a ton of additional data available in the resort view, down to details about the name of the run the Tubing hill is closest to. Also included are trail and GPS maps that are downloaded so you can use later without a data connection.
Fizz Snow – $2.99
Fizz Snow offers a great deal of weather (both current and forecast) information with a very nice interface. Likewise, the mountain specific views present a lot of useful snow and resort information. There are even downloadable trail maps (that can be zoomed-in on enough to actually read the run names) and webcams — both viewable from within the app itself.
SnoCountry – 99 cents
With SnoCountry you get just the pertinent details about snow and the resort you’ve added. The app looks great, but shovels all the heavy lifting off to Safari, where the map, webcam, or resort info are displayed. The one big plus to this snow application is when adding favorite resorts, the search results narrow as you type, rather than a long list to scroll through. However, it’s a small feather in the cap compared to the lack of additional features. There’s a free version of SnoCountry which allows you to track 2 resorts rather than the 18 alotted when you pay the 99 pennies for the full version.
Ski Lodge – Snow Reports + Trail Maps + Weather – $1.99 (on sale)
If you’re looking for the quick-hit details about your favorite resorts, and will accept nothing less than a brilliantly beautiful interface, then you’ve arrived at the Ski Lodge. However, drilling down to the resort view offers little more in the way of snow conditions or weather forecast. It does have a downloadable trail maps feature, but it’s buggy right now (repeatedly crashes or freezes my iPhone). Other information for the resort is off-loaded to Safari. A feature not found elsewhere is ‘Ski News,’ which is possibly interesting to someone, but largely useless.
If you’re pinching pennies (lift tickets are pricey and then some these days), my pick of the free apps would be Ski & Snow Reports — but they’re free, so see which works best for you. But if you found some change in the couch cushions, SnoCator is my new favorite based on the huge amount of data it puts at my fingertips. Happy winter folks — pray for snow!