Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time to Break Out My Tools

Chain controls are up, radar images are rich with echoes, and the new storm is making news.

Today the snowfall on the High Sierra is taking it's first break until the next wave. @planetski tweets that it's snowing in the Rockies, the Alps, and the Pyrénées. 'Tis the season...

All the webcam images are great! Fresh snow everywhere and lots of it.

I tuned in to channel 31 KMAX TV to watch the latest, and the storm was the leading story. Power outtages, road conditions, high school football in the mud...what's not to like? Streaming TV on the internet...pretty handy.

So, what about Trans Sierra travelers...what resources are available for them to track road and ski conditions, traffic and weather?

Smartphone devotees have the web and thousands of apps for that.

My search for the perfect Weather Apps continues, and I'm hot on the trail of the perfect Weather Radar App.

I'm a cheap old groomer, so I don't carry a smartphone. I use an iPod Touch as my Mountain has a robust WiFi cloud, so the Touch is plenty for my needs on the hill.

Last season I wasn't that happy with the weather apps I tried...they all seemed to lag too much behind the Real-Time conditions. I want real time weather intel so I can stay a step ahead of conditions. I remember one storm when I was looking at a clear radar picture on my screen, showing the band of snowfall had passed a half an hour ago. I looked up from the screen, and out my windshield was a total whiteout...

I did find a useful tool that night. Twitter, while not a graphic view that pleases the eye, it is Real-Time Intel...if you find and follow the relevant Tweeters.

I follow @i80chains. They post chain control info for most of the Central-Sierra Highways.

The people who run the webcam site had a Twitter Account last season that Tweeted the Electronic Signs on Interstate 80. Magnifeye has been making some changes to their webpages during the off season, and I can't find their SignTweets now.

They seem to have moved the SignTweets into their regular feed: @MagnifeyeRoads. Hopefully, they will resurrect their SignTweets (I stopped following them at the end of the season)

After a few nights of following the road and chain tweets, you get an idea of the overall weather in Real-Time. You can follow the storm's progress up and over the Sierra Crest by following the level that chain controls begin. As the storm passes, chain controls rise as the snowfall tapers off and the temps rise, allowing CalTrans to clear the roads.

One caveat however...when the storm's pounding, conditions on the Interstate change fast. All the automated tweets make your Twitter Timeline move fast, and on a small handheld screen, this world can pass you by in a lightsecond. The Electronic SignTweets are very prolific, but they offer a plethora of information.

I use Tweetdeck on my iPod to tame the flood of tweets. I have a different Twitter Accounts for my different interests...Boating/Fishing, Politics, Culture, News, and @CorduroyPlanet. Tweetdeck lets me keep an eye on one account easily, while keeping the other accounts handy.

If you want to keep Twitter down to a dull roar, you can create a Twitter List just for road and ski conditions, and toggle to and from the List to your total timeline.

I explain Twitter to my uninitiated friends this way: Twitter is like Radio, except it's text instead of tunes or talk. Yes, it's 2-Way, but you don't have to broadcast (tweet) you can just listen.

I'm off to prepare the Ancestral Digs Early Thanksgiving Feast now, but I'll keep an eye on the storm...this is fun!

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