Pete ‘The Frog’ Taylor and Snowatch

Features

From his humble beginings to where his is today, Pete Taylor has no doubt come a long way. Known nationwide for his accurate forecasting on the Australian Alpine region he has been heralded as the most reliable long range snow forecaster in Australia.


We caught up with Pete Taylor, or as he is commonly known, the Frog, for a chat on all things Snowatch.

Q / Snowatch is an institution for Snowboarders and skiers alike, how did the website begin?

Around 1996 I began to talk weather with others interested in snow on the new ski.com.au forum. After gaining a bit of knowledge on what to look for in regards to weather charts and snowfalls I started to put up some of my own long range forecasts. After a few came off I started getting emails from people wanting to know what the snow would be like when they were in the mountains. I started to get so many emails that it was taking up a lot of my time answering each one so I decided to put my forecasts up on a webpage so everyone could see and not have to send emails.

Q / What do you think the secret to the ongoing success of your website is?

The forecasts have to be accurate year after year; if they are not then there is no real need for the site, that’s main reason people visit Snowatch. I think being totally honest helps also. If I think that winds will be strong enough for lifts to close then I will say so. I know resorts don’t like this but I’d be annoyed if I booked a trip only to find out that most of the lifts were closed, especially when someone could have told me that this is very possible prior to booking.

Q / You are referred to as the ‘most reliable long range weather forecaster in oz’, how does one get such a title? What’s your secret for being on the money?

I didn’t give myself that title, but happy to run with it. I try to keep everything simple in regards to my forecasting. If you take in too many sources/factors then you start to second guess yourself. I write my forecasts for the average person, you don’t need to know anything about the weather to understand them.

Q / Do you have any formal weather forecasting education?

No I don’t. I always had an interest in the weather. I grew up surfing and used to check newspapers and the TV news weather forecasts to see when the swell would come. As I got older and started going to the mountains I
wanted to know when it would snow. When the internet came about it just made it easier to access charts and talk to others with the same interest and that’s where I stumbled on a simple method of forecasting.

Q / Social Networks, love them or hate them? How useful are they getting more people to see your reports?

I think they are helpful. I have never paid for an advertisement so the only way people find out about my site is from friends or write ups I get in mags and newspapers.

Q / Snowboard or Skier? What’s your current setup?

I started skiing about 26 years ago. I nearly tried boarding when it first came in but Blue Cow wouldn’t hire out their brand new hire boards cause the cover wasn’t good enough at the time. I have been skiing on Stoeckli Rotor 76 – size 170. My new Stoeckli Stormrider XXL – size 170 should be arriving shortly.

Q / You have been predicting the weather throughout the years now, have you noticed any trends at all which correlate to the constantly talked about, global warming?

No not really. We have good seasons and bad seasons, each year is different. I don’t really buy into the global warming talk, I just look for snowfalls.

Q / The Frog, what does it mean, how did you get that nickname?

Nothing really behind it. I just needed a username when I first started putting forecasts up and thought best not to use my real name incase work saw it and also incase the forecasts were really bad.

Q / The site obviously started as something you enjoyed, now it has taken on a direction of it’s own, does the continual success surprise you?

Yeah it does for sure. It’s a fair bit of work these days juggling the website, working full time and now with two young buys to look after, but it’s also rewarding. I enjoy doing it and I think that shows, if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t bother getting on the laptop at 5am each morning for five months of the year.

Q / The site has now expanded to feature video forecasts, accommodation info and NZ forecasts, what else can we expect in the years to come?

Not too sure at this stage, the site is evolving all the time. I’d like to work more on making the equipment guide stronger and get more retail shops and importers involved. It’s one way I can put something back into the industry as that area is struggling a bit at the moment.

Q / Thanks for your time Pete, any last words?

When whinging about ticket prices we should remember that without snowmaking no resorts would be operating at the moment. The resorts have spent millions upgrading their snowmaking capacity each year and need to pay for that somehow, it’s just a reality in Australia with such a short snow season and marginal conditions. Also if possible, support your local ski shops.

www.snowatch.com.au

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February 8th, 2010

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