You may have noticed the new map adjacent to our avalanche advisory on our homepage this week. MWAC superstar volunteer, Jeff Fongemie, created this map plugin and and brought to fruition a goal of ours to make it easier to visualize areas of hazard in our forecast areas. Additionally, many folks either don’t know the names and locations of our forecast areas or have some of the alternative run names for the areas in mind when looking at our written advisory. The details of the forecast can be hard to remember after an hour hike into the terrain but hopefully a visual display of the hazard ratings may help you identify places to go as well as avoid. Though it may seem obvious, it is important to remember that the graphic is more a tool to help you understand the avalanche problem than an actual map to navigate through the hazard. For that reason, we drew the polygon shapes of the avalanche paths in the generally area of the feature and generally larger than it’s largest historical path. The location of each polygon is however a good reflection of the compass orientation and aspect, to some degree, of the slope so identifying avalanche problems due to prevailing wind loading or scouring, and solar gain should be more apparent.
Above all, continue to read our advisory, the weather, the snowpack history and then reassess as you enter the terrain. Snow and weather changes and with it, so does the hazard so think critically and realize that there is much more to the story than the ultra-basic message contained in a one-word rating.
Check out the map. We hope it helps.
Thanks also to Jon Hall who put it a lot of work and is doing some interesting stuff with 3D mapping of avalanche terrain.