The goal of this project was to identify how and when ski area managers make climate and weather-related decisions and how drought impacts those decisions. During the scoping of this project, the research team determined that ski areas have several decision timescales—operational decisions are made on day-to-day and week-to-week timescales and are primarily driven by weather and forecasts; long-term strategic decisions can be guided by climate change; in between are medium-term decisions, which can be impacted by climate variability and drought.
The project began with assimilating a group of contacts at ski areas around the Intermountain West Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) region. Through interviews with these contacts, the project team was able to gather information on how decision makers find and use weather and climate information, and identify their needs and gaps that could improve their decision-making based on additional information. Gaps requiring additional information could be from currently existing data and products of which they were unaware, or for data and products that are not yet available.
This project has the potential to improve decision-making at ski resorts throughout the Intermountain West and provides opportunities for increasing public knowledge about the intersection of climate and outdoor recreation.