Forecaster Mike Weissbluth keeps an eye on the sky
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs resident Mike Weissbluth developed an appetite for weather forecasting at an early age.
In junior high, he learned to take the weather observations printed out on a teletype machine and plot them on a weather map.
“That was my first introduction into meteorology,” Weissbluth said. “It was just a hobby at that point, but it was fun.”
Today, Weissbluth uses computer models and other data to create custom weather forecasts for Steamboat Springs, particularly, the snow totals for the Steamboat Ski Area.
“Forecasting is hard,” Weissbluth said. “You’re wrong a lot.”
This week, however, Weissbluth has been spot on. On Friday, he was calling for significant snowfall throughout Christmas week.
Weissbluth posts the forecasts and links to other weather resources on his website snowalarm.com. Users can also sign up to receive cell phone and email alerts when the ski area receives a certain amount of snow.
Weissbluth has some serious credentials when it comes to meteorology.
A Long Island native, he attended Cornell University and studied applied and engineering physics.
“I worked in semiconductor labs at Cornell and couldn’t see myself working under yellow lights all the time,” Weissbluth said.
For graduate school, he went to Colorado State University on scholarship and studied atmospheric science.
“I figured I would try it for a master’s degree,” Weissbluth said. “If it didn’t work out, I could go back to engineering.”
For his master’s work, he studied visibility in the Grand Canyon and the effects power plow plant emissions had on haze.
He went on to receive his doctorate degree from CSU in atmospheric science.
For about 10 years, he worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Working with grants from a defense contractor developing smart bombs, Weissbluth studied where the plumes from the bombs would go.
“The theory was, you don’t want troops in harm’s way,” Weissbluth said.
When the grant funding ran out, Weissbluth worked in Fort Collins doing software engineering during the early days of the Internet. He developed the snow alarm website in 2000 as a way to get out of bed at 5 a.m. to go ski.
Not wanting to drive to bike and ski, Weissbluth arranged with his employer to work from Steamboat.
Today, Weissbluth continues to work as a software engineer and web developer. On the side, he continues to produce his custom forecasts with an emphasis on the ski area.
“If you spend money on it, and it doesn’t make money, it’s a hobby,” Weissbluth said.
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