Snowfall Apps Keep Ski Resorts Honest

Most seasoned skiers apply the same mental math to "official" resort snow reports as they would their dad's big-fish stories: Smile and nod, and then subtract a few inches. The skepticism over self-reported snowfall is not without basis—just ask anyone who's spent a morning vainly searching for the elusive outcropping that captured the promised foot of fresh pow, when everywhere on the mountain seems to have gotten closer to eight inches.

A recent Dartmouth College study bears out skiers' suspicions, showing that resorts tend to report more snowfall on Saturday and Sunday mornings (23 percent more, to be exact) than they do on weekdays. Maybe Mother Nature also has a tendency to overindulge herself on the weekends. But most likely, the spike in snowfall results from resorts' desire to nudge visitors who might be on the fence about a weekend trek to the mountains.

Enter that greatest of modern-day equalizers, technology. Turns out those pocket-sized gadgets that once functioned merely to place telephone calls can also give you unbiased insight from your fellow skiers into how much snow you can really expect. Smartphone apps like Ski & Snow Report (available for iPhone and Android) by compare resort-reported snowfall totals with real-time feedback from skiers who are experiencing the conditions firsthand. So, if you think a resort might have pulled the old powder-day bait-and-switch on you, it's easy to spread the word—and if you're debating whether or not to hit the slopes, you can make a better informed decision.

The coolest part? The study showed that at resorts with good iPhone coverage, the far-fetched weekend snow reports virtually stopped once the app introduced the real-time info-sharing feature. Power to the powder hounds.

To find out about the best snow-finding apps, see our story: The 4 Best Snow-Finding Apps.