Storm of meteorologists moving in

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— Weather prognosticators from 25 of the nation's leading television markets are arriving here Sunday for a weather conference, so naturally, the Steamboat ski Area is praying for snow to fall during the week.

Given the ski area's track record the last five years or so, there may be a cause-and-effect relationship between the arrival of the meteorologists and the storm track.

"It always seems to snow during the weather summit," ski area spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.

Fresh snow usually makes ski corp. officials smile and that's especially so when 25 T.V. weather people are in town, representing the potential to file between 80 and 100 live remote spots back to their home station during the week. If it happens to be snowing here, when the weather broadcaster does a story for the folks back home in Orlando, it's almost like a free commercial for Steamboat.

However, the Steamboat weather summit is more than a public relations junket, ski corp. officials say. It's also a legitimate conference featuring outstanding speakers in the field.

"The weather summit was designed as a hands-on, interactive exchange of information, ideas and experiences for meteorologists," said Mike Lane , ski corp.'s director of public relations. "It's gained a reputation over the years as one of the most productive, educational and enjoyable experiences in the industry."

Dale Eck, weather product manager for The Weather Channel, said he is fascinated by Steamboat's weather patterns.

"I first attended the conference back in 1993 as an on-camera representative from The Weather Channel. I found it to be an excellent professional meteorological conference and also enjoyable from a social aspect," Eck said. "There are some great people who both run and attend the conference. Also, I love to ski and you can't beat the champagne powder found at Steamboat."

Among the speakers who will participate this week is Sandy MacDonald of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She will speak Tuesday about global warming.

Richard Kithil of the National Lightning Safety Institute will give a talk titled "If You Can See it, Flee it; If You can Hear it, Clear it."

Eck already has spotted a seminar he considers a must.

"Obviously, the weather summit is a PR coup for Steamboat," Eck said. "But it's also a legitimate professional conference. I'm looking forward to Don Kinnan's talk on how weather affects fine wine."

The ski corp. makes it easy for the T.V. weather people to do live remotes or send footage home by providing its own satellite uplink facility. The ski corp. even has packaged several pre-produced features that center on the week's speakers. That allows the weathercasters to accent their coverage during the week here.

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