Forecaster Blogs

Blog: In Defense of Sidecountry - Jan 7, 2013 - Paul Diegel
  A colleague and I recently shared a chairlift with a 20ish out-of-town snowboarder enjoying a sunny day between holiday storms at a Utah resort. He told us that he had taken multiple laps the day before, mid-storm, on a steep, open slope accessible through a gate at the resort boundary. The avalanche advisory had called the hazard Considerable, with persistent weak layers, thin snowpack, and the potential of large, unmanageable avalanches. The slope, the site of several fatalities in recent years, was mentioned in the advisory as being an example of slopes particularly suspect. The...


Blog: Smart Phone Apps - Dec 7, 2012 - Bruce Tremper
Call it the sign of the times.  It used to be every time I went to a party or gave a talk, everyone wanted to know what websites I used.  Now, they only want to know which apps I use.  Well funny you should ask because there is a plethora of new apps out on the market for displaying the avalanche adivosry and submitting observations on avalanches and snow profiles.  I have been experimenting with most of them and consulting with several groups working on new apps that will come out in the next few months or a year.  Since I'm an iPhone guy, I have to confess my ignorance of the Droid versions...


Blog: November Faceting Period - Dec 2, 2012 - Kobernik
I've been trying to think of a way to discuss the faceting period that occurred from November 20 to Dec 1 and haven't really come up with anything.  But, I did have an interesting email conversation with Greg Gagne, one of our top observers, on this subject that I thought some folks might find interesting. Greg Gagne Dec 1 (2 days ago)   to me Hey Brett - Got out htis morning and was curious what the faceted snow looked like underneath the new snow. Am putting together an obs, but curious your thoughts on the preserved facets. Small grains (.5 mm) that under the scope...


Blog: How to Read the Advisory - Nov 25, 2012 - Bruce Tremper
  If you look at avalanche advisories other English-speaking countries like Canada and New Zealand, they will look similar to our advisory.  Most elements of this look actually started in Utah and spread to many other parts of the world and evolved in the process.  Now, it's our turn to match the look that other countries have gravitated towards.  In the summer of 2012, many of the U.S. avalanche centers in our region met to negotiate a common look including Wyoming, Idaho California and Colorado.  Eventually, you should see these areas adopt the same look and...


Blog: Ottos Pit - Nov 23, 2012 - Toby Weed
I stopped to look at the snow, and when I was done with my test pit I turned around to see that Otto's pit was just as big and as deep as mine. Unfortunately, he also found weak faceted or sugary snow in his pit. The base layer dosen't look all that good anymore, and a forecast week of high pressure isn't going to help things much.


Blog: Snowpack Investigation - Detective Work at Targeted Sites - Nov 20, 2012 - Evelyn
When I head out for a field day, I've always got a "hit list" - it's bad snow I'm looking for, always looking for the worst snow there is.  People don't trigger avalanches where the strong snow is, they trigger them from the weak spots. So it's a very focused, detective work, trying to discover where the worst snow is hiding.  In SWAG (Snow, Weather and Avalanche Guidelines) this is known as "targeted site selection", and I'm doing test profiles - collecting the type and amount of information...


Blog: Playing with Fire – A Case Study of the March 4, 2012 Temperature/Solar Radiation – Induced Dry Slab Natural Avalanche Cycle and its Practical Implications for Forecasting - Nov 20, 2012 - Hardesty
A few people have suggested that I condense my Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop presentation from early November into an article.   There are very few well documented cases of dry snow avalanches being triggered by warming.  What you see below will also be in this spring's periodical of the American Avalanche Association, The Avalanche Review.   Synopsis - Case study of Sunday March 4, 2012. All the natural and human triggered slides that stemmed from Heat/Solar Radiation induced deformation on a conditionally unstable snowpack. A powerful Pacific storm shook...


Blog: Early season snow cover in the Bear River Range - Nov 15, 2012 - Toby Weed
With only 8 inches of total snow on the stake at the Tony Grove Snotel, backcountry snow conditions are obviously shallow. Even so, you can find slopes at the highest elevations with smooth underlying ground and enough snow for a bit of early season fun. We found a few pockets of skiable terrain today on Cornice Ridge, west of and above Tony Grove Lake. Only north facing slopes above around 8500 feet in elevation have enough snow, since snow from October survived only on upper elevation shady slopes. Unlike our lucky southern neighbors in the Central Wasatch Range who can boast of feet of...


Blog: A couple of EXCELLENT powder days - Nov 12, 2012 - Kobernik
Well, I just wrapped up the second of two very good powder days.  The first I spent with my colleague Drew and we both agreed that after last year, we both really needed to take a day off and have a day full of low density, in your face snow.  We have been skiing and snowboarding some steep terrain with no avalanche problems.


Blog: The Wisdom of Crowds - Nov 10, 2012 - Hardesty
Last February, at a TED (Technology, Education, Design) conference in California, a PhD student named Lior Zoref brought an ox onstage to perform a social experiment.  He had each person in the crowd write down what (s)he thought the animal weighed and turn it in.  While his assistants were tabulating the answers, he then went on to talk about the wisdom of crowds.  James Surowiecki posed the same argument in his 2004 book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.  Its...


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