Just Blame Larry

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Powder Alerts are the best reason to call in sick.The midmorning e-mail certainly got my attention: "Powder Alert!!!! More Dumpage Maximus!!" Translation? According to Larry Schick, Seattle's skiing TV weatherman (and e-mail emissary), the Cascades were going to get pounded, and I'd be a fool to miss out. Hey, if you're going to call in sick, there's nothing like a little notice.

Advance information is the whole idea behind Powder Alerts, Schick's free e-mail service for Northwest skiers. Instead of simply reporting current conditions, Larry crunches the weather data and sends out proactive e-mail messages to his subscribers whenever he senses imminent dumpage. "If I see a high likelihood of great skiing, that's when I pull the trigger and send out an alert," he says.

For skiers, that's a welcome change from the usual Web-based weather blather-much of which is undated, unattributed, or unmitigated self-promotion. ("It's going to be a great day at Mt. Molehill. Come join the fun!") Schick, on the other hand, tells it like it is-likely snowfall, snow levels, whether to go early or late-backed by 25 years of experience as a meteorologist and skier.

For now, the service is geared toward Washington skiers, but Schick hopes to expand. "The next step would be Tahoe," he says, "but Southern California, Utah, and Colorado could also work." In the meantime, you can get on the Powder Alert list at www.skiwashington.com. Just don't tell your boss.