Forecaster Blogs

Blog: Annual Report 2015 - 06/9/2015 - Bruce Tremper
Here is the Annual Report for 2014-15.  Click on the attachment for the complete report. In short, the unprecedented 2014-15 season smashed all previous records for the least amount of snow and the warmest temperatures since records began at Alta in the 1940’s.   The previous record for the least amount of snow at the Alta Guard Station was 314 inches in the infamous 1976-77 season.  This season only 267.5 inches fell from November 1st through April 30th. But the good news…Utah had only one fatality instead of the average of four.  We had 116 unintentional, human triggered avalanches reported...


Blog: New record low annual snowfall in progress - 03/14/2015 - Brett Kobernik
Year to Date I've been keeping an eye on the year to date snowfall at the Alta Guard for this season and it looks like we are well on our way to breaking a record for the all time lowest amount.  Records date back to 1945 at the Alta Guard.  Let's take a look at where we are. Here are the monthly totals (in inches) as of Saturday, March 14 along with the monthly averages:   Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr Total 2014-15 59.5 73.5 28.5 35 17   213.5 Average 70 92 94 83 90 68 499 March outlook So, I'm going to speculate a bit on how much more snow we see in March based on the current GFS weather model...


Blog: March 1st - How Bad is it So Far - 03/2/2015 - Bruce Tremper
The percent of normal for March 1st for the western U.S.  As you can see, we are doing much better than the West Coast but we're still around half of normal.  Here is a series of plots for various SNOTEL sites in the Wasatch. I plotted the average (blue), the lowest year on record (red) and this season (green.)  The lower elevation SNOTEL sites have much less snow than the lowest snow year on record.  The higher elevation plots are about tied for the record low.  So even though Utah has about half or normal for the season, we are still close to a record low, which speaks to the consistency...


Blog: Riding the White Wave; User Friendly Avalanches - 02/8/2015 - Toby Weed
Riders triggered over a dozen sizable avalanches in the Tony Grove Area midweek February 4 and 5, and once again a couple people were probably pretty dang lucky in the Logan Zone.  Although impressive looking slides, two feet deep and in some cases, wider than a football field, these were soft, slow-running, and as it turns out, rather user-friendly avalanches.   Practicing avalanche rescue in a nice sled triggered avalanche in the Tony Grove Area on 2-7-2015 Skilled riders might've outrun these avalanches, and no one got hurt  this time, but future avalanches on the same slopes could be...


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: Guilt - 01/24/2015 - Hardesty
  Guilt from Drew Hardesty on Vimeo. A few years ago, one of my best friends was caught in an avalanche somewhere north of here.  The avalanche was triggered from above - another skier on the slope - and as the Leviathan roared down, he pushed another skier out of the way toward safety...and suffered the onslaught of the avalanche.  Deep within the stomach of the whale, he pulled the trigger on the avalanche airbag.  "It was like the hand of God that pulled me up toward the surface and I survived."  He's the only person I know that has had two very different experiences with an airbag.  The...


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...


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