Forecaster Blogs

Blog: The Brett Kobernik Skunkworks - 01/26/2015 - Bruce Tremper
I dropped a vehicle off at Brett Kobernik's house yesterday and caught him working in his garage.  I thought others would be amazed, as I always am, in a look behind the scenes of the skunkworks of the Utah Avalanche Center and the genius of Brett Kobernik.   Here, on the left, he has a couple of motorcycles converted into snow bikes with a snowmobile track on the back and a ski in the front.  He usually rides these instead of snowmobiles because they are so much more nimble and easier to get unstuck.  On the right, he has built a prototype of a mobile weather station with technical...


Blog: C-PST: Request for more Data from UAC Observers - 01/23/2015 - Hardesty for Gallatin NF Avalanche Forecaster Eric Knoff
Request for more data sets for Eric Knoff in the Gallatin NF Av Ctr ​From the other day - PST (Propagation Saw Tests) tend to have a higher "false stable" ratio than ECTs (Extended Column Tests) but may be preferable when one has a deeper weakness of concern.   Eric Knoff (retired Snowbird) and current Gallatin NF Avalanche Center forecaster wrote a paper on horizontal pit-wall PSTs and published it at this fall's ISSW.  His data indicate that CPSTs share similar critical cut lengths as standard PSTs, with 75% of critical cut lengths falling within 10 cm of each other.  Something to consider...


Blog: High Risk Low Frequency Events by Gordon Graham - 01/23/2015 - Hardesty
Deep Slab Instability by Gordon Graham.  Low Probability High Consequence avalanche conditions to a 'T'.  Trust me.    


Blog: Practicing Companion Rescue - 01/9/2015 - UAC Logan
        Everyone who enjoys the snow in the backcountry should practice Companion Avalanche Rescue.  If you get caught in an avalanche, your best hope for survival lies in the hands of your companions.   A bit of practice will make your crew more efficient and faster in a critical race against time.   The seconds and minutes you'll save if someone is buried could be the difference between life and death.     This video is not meant to be a stand-alone resource.  Many more in-depth descriptions of the companion rescue process exist, but we recommend that you follow up your research and reading...


Blog: Drift into Failure...or, Mathematics and a Few Thoughts on Risk - 12/31/2014 - Drew Hardesty
What is your Level of Acceptable Risk?  How did you determine this?  Some will center-punch Superior on a CONSIDERABLE danger while others feel happy going to Powder Park everyday.  Everyone is different and it's insulting at worst and a waste of time at best to look askance at others who are on either end of the pendulum. It's - how shall we say - inelegant to look upon some as suicidal and others as boring and unfulfilled.   The key points here are  To be aware of your level of acceptable risk Understand factors that may influence your risk taking Find others who have a similar level of...


Blog: Avalanche Watches and Warnings - 12/31/2014 - Hardesty and Tremper
Confused about the terms Watch and Warning?  You're not alone.  The terms Watch and Warning have been used by the National Weather Service for many years to warn the public and media about especially dangerous weather that is expected, imminent or occurring. Since we have been co-located with the National Weather Service office since 1980, we have always utilized  Watch and Warnings to warn about especially dangerous avalanche conditions.  It also helps to reach the public that wouldn't otherwise get avalanche information our avalanche phone lines or website.  The Purpose of Avalanche...


Blog: Weekend Avalanche Preview 12-12-2014 - 12/12/2014 - Bruce Tremper
With a storm coming in for the weekend, it's extremely important to map the pre-existing snow to know if the either wind blown snow and new snow will overload any weak layers.  In this case, the weak layer will be the present snow surface.  The long period of clear skies this past week or more has created very weak snow on the surface, which we call near-surface faceted snow as well as surface hoar.  The strong sun created slick sun crusts on the sun exposed slopes.  So here is the general snow surface pattern by aspect and elevation:       Here's a good recent video from Brett Kobernik:  ...


Blog: Quick and easy avalanche rescue practice - 12/11/2014 - Toby Weed
We all need  to take the time to practice with our avalanche rescue equipment...  It's easy to do, doesn't take much time, helps to make sure our equipment is functioning correctly, and could go along way towards saving lives in the backcountry. Here's a short video we did of our practice in the Tony Grove Area yesterday, (12-10-2014)


Blog: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics - Looking at the Last 10 years of Avalanche Fatalities in Utah - 12/9/2014 - Drew Hardesty
Looking over the last 10 winters at the avalanche fatalities across the state.  What's the trend?  Where do they occur...and to whom?  One might look at a running average of 4 fatalities/year against explosive growth in backcountry use over the past 10 years and draw any number of conclusions.   At first glance, one might be lulled into looking at these numbers as numbers; but in truth each number is a person - a friend, husband, wife, child, or colleague. The numbers belie the real stories punctuated by real events with real people affected by close calls and, unfortunately, tragedy.  For...


Blog: Beyond the 100th Meridian - 12/9/2014 - Drew Hardesty
Weeks of high pressure and a slowly rehabbing meniscus have got me to thinking on a few things, which is usually a dangerous proposition.   We live beyond - as the author and historian Wallace Stegner described - the 100th meridian in North America, a rough approximation of the dividing line between those lands which require irrigation...and those that don't.  Any prospective student of the arid West will know of the one armed major pushing off from Green River Wyoming in 1869 and will soon have a bookshelf full of books like Reisner's Cadillac Desert and Stegner's Beyond the 100th Meridian,...


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