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Thread: Big Changes in Avalanche Forcasting for Whites

  1. #1
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Big Changes in Avalanche Forcasting for Whites

    I came across this info recently and thought it might be of use.

    There will no longer by gully-by-gully avi forecast for the Whites. Instead forecasts will be made over a larger area and based on slope aspect. This is similar to how it is done in most western states.

    Those of you that recreate in avi regions might want to read more about these changes at the link below...
    cb

    The Evolution of Mount Washington Avalanche Center Forecasts
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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    More desk time and "crowdsourcing", less field work. Not sure I like that angle. The subtext is that usage is expanding across the range and needs support, and obviously they can't put the same effort into the ravines while increasing coverage with the same resources. Probably the best approach given those constraints. "Lay" observers are getting pretty sophisticated (e.g. New Mexico backcountry avy forecasting is 100% crowdsourced.) But I feel something is lost without having someone walk up into the gullies every day; there's that sense that develops from being really grounded in a place, day after day.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    More desk time and "crowdsourcing", less field work. ... there's that sense that develops from being really grounded in a place, day after day.
    Agreed. What will be lost is the detailed day-today history the observer has of action in each gully. E.G.:

    Gully X had a slide early Monday morning down to the base layer. In the afternoon 10 inches of snow was deposited back in the gully by high wind. So anticipate windslab formation through the day and into the evening as high winds continue. Bla bla bla.

    For ice climbers this will be a loss.

    cb
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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    The onus is and always has been on the user. If you have not already it is time to ante up and take an avalanche course. The information from the Forest Service has always been a good resource but one's on extrapolations have always been necessary also. This latest move seems to be congruent to the increase of widespread use across the WMNF. It will be interesting to see what information crowdsourcing will provide. The tricky part IMO will be deciphering the credibility of the source. Maybe with time users will gain more reliance based upon frequency and one's reported reliability. Hopefully this new system will increase overall awareness.
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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    I'm also curious how they plan to tie in user observations into their forecasting. It seems as though there is an interesting opportunity to compare observations with previous weather readings to come up with improved forecasts. I suspect that the Rangers already know a lot of this intuitively by now (winds at X speed from Y direction with Z inches of snow over H hours results in an expected set of conditions on specific slopes).

    The write-up specifically asks for pictures and videos, which I imagine will still require some interpretation by the Rangers. I'm curious if there will be more guidance coming forward on what pictures are most useful (crowns, pits, etc) and if they will only want geotagged pics.
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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    I'm also curious how they plan to tie in user observations into their forecasting. It seems as though there is an interesting opportunity to compare observations with previous weather readings to come up with improved forecasts. I suspect that the Rangers already know a lot of this intuitively by now (winds at X speed from Y direction with Z inches of snow over H hours results in an expected set of conditions on specific slopes).

    The write-up specifically asks for pictures and videos, which I imagine will still require some interpretation by the Rangers. I'm curious if there will be more guidance coming forward on what pictures are most useful (crowns, pits, etc) and if they will only want geotagged pics.
    The American Avalanche Institute provides a multitude of training and evaluation standards. My guess is that they will provide a framework for reporting based on those widely recognized standards. A lot of information to absorb here. https://www.americanavalancheinstitute.com/
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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