I cannot profess to be a snow science Ph.D., nor am I a professional meteorologist. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a diehard snow lover, rabid powder hound, and unrepentant weather nerd.
I’m the one in the yeti costume on Halloween. I’m the frosted beast of burden snowblowing his driveway in the wee hours to clear a path toward first chair. I’m the guy hiking around snowfields in August, reminiscing about last season.
While at work, I co-direct the Water Desk, an independent journalism initiative based at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism that focuses on Western water issues, especially the Colorado River and Rio Grande, both of which are mostly filled with snowmelt.
It’s been a long and winding journey from my birth in the concrete jungle of New York City to my home in a ponderosa pine forest at 7,600 feet in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains.
After graduating from Yale in 1992, I was a budding social scientist who worked as a poverty researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. In 1996, after bicycling across the United States and teaching English in Ecuador, I started a doctoral program in political science at UC Berkeley, but I bailed after getting my master’s degree to pursue my passion for journalism.
From 1998 to 2006, I was a newspaper reporter covering environmental and other issues for the Napa Valley Register, Tucson Citizen, and Arizona Daily Star. I won awards for my deadline, feature, and explanatory writing, including two first prizes from the Arizona Associated Press Managing Editors for stories on water and border issues.
It was in Tucson, surrounded by saguaro cacti, where I came to appreciate snow more deeply, not only because I was nostalgic for childhood ski trips and snow days back East, but also because the Colorado River’s snowpack was a huge part of my beat as a water reporter. Snow was helping make the Tucson metropolis possible in the Sonoran Desert, thanks to all that Colorado River snowmelt in the Central Arizona Project’s 336-mile canal.
In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation and used it to work on my book, Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink, which was awarded a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
After leaving the newspaper business, I worked for seven years at California Environmental Associates, where I was a lead writer of Design to Win, a 2007 report that outlined an investment strategy for philanthropists interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Design to Win helped inspire foundations to commit more than $1 billion to create ClimateWorks, a global philanthropic network.
In 2012, I started my own consultancy, Sea to Snow LLC, which has provided editing, writing, and multimedia services to a variety of clients (I don’t accept assignments related to the environment due to my work as a journalist in that realm.) I’m also an FAA-certified drone pilot who loves to shoot photos and videos from planes.
As far as snow-related credentials, I’d consider myself an aspiring ski bum. I’ve logged 50+ days per season a few times. I mostly ski at resorts but also sometimes snowboard and occasionally venture into the backcountry.
In 2017, I got my Alpine Level I and Children’s Specialist certifications from the Professional Ski Instructors Association of America. I still haven’t taught at a ski resort, but I hope to soon, and the training has been a great help in teaching my nine-year-old daughter to become a little shredder. I also have Level I training from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.
The wordsmith in me is fixated on the language and terminology related to snow, skiing, and snowboarding, so in 2016 I started SnowSlang, an offbeat blog/glossary that I’ve just rebooted and will be integrating into this newsletter by offering explanations of key terms in snow science. To date, the most widely read work in my career is an investigation into the etymology of “shred the gnar.”
These experiences have certainly enhanced my knowledge of snow, but they’ve also made it clear how much I still have to learn, which is precisely why I started Snow News!
Please feel free to email me with questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.