Use the NOAA.gov website in the winter? You need to know this...
What are they changing? Well, the main thing is - they are taking away the human detailed point forecaster and it's hard to see where they intend to place the interactive map that is so helpful for back country dwellers and recreational users in the winter. It appears they are replacing it with line graphs and other tabular data that will show computer generated projections for hourly weather changes over 72 hours for one area that you type in (e.g. Placerville, Ridgway, Montrose, Telluride.)
Sounds great, right? In some ways - I really like it, and I would like it more if I were a farmer who needed to know when a good time to plant or harvest might be. But as a back country dweller who travels and recreates in the mountains in the winter - what do I think??
It's not exactly so great.
At least not as far as I am concerned. I live far away from everywhere. I like to call home "The middle of the middle of nowhere." and the weather up here in the middle of the middle of nowhere is different, sometimes by the quarter mile in the winter. There can be white out conditions at the end of the driveway while it's sunny and clear at the house.
What is more important to me as a winter back country traveler is being able to click on the "detailed point forecast map" and the map function to look at several areas along my route - either for skiing, or for going to town. Here is an example of the website as it is right now: (cut and past into your browser if necessary.
Here is an example of the redesign:
The tabular data is there for the 72 hours - but where is the map?
Do I care about the next 72 hours where I am - or do I care about what the weather is like where I plan on going?
Honestly, when I am traveling here in the winter, I care about what the weather is going to be like where I am going, as well as what it is going to be like on the way there.
I encourage you to look at this redesign yourself and fill out the public comment form before May 18.
Obviously, the NOAA folks in Fort Worth Texas are thinking more about the website users on the plains than they are the website users in the mountains - because the plains farmers are using the website more often now and will be more likely to make comment than most of us mountain dwellers - so please, even the geographic user comment playing field - take a look at the redesign and make your comment!