Current Avalanche Advisory

Friday, November 27

No Rating

Forecaster: Kip Rand
Issued: Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 7:00 AM PST
BOTTOM LINE: Sensitive pockets of wind slab are present on lee and cross-loaded terrain steeper than 30 degrees near and above tree line. Avoid this problem by sticking to sheltered areas and slopes less than 30 degrees in steepness. In this shallow, variable early season snowpack, it may also be possible to trigger a larger persistent slab avalanche in alpine north-facing terrain steeper t...   

WAC News

Avalanche Problem Types

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 6:13 PM
by Kip Rand

After two weeks of discussion and planning, the WAC has settled on our Avalanche Advisory format for the 2015-16 season. Prior to last season, the WAC offered "Current Conditions Bulletins" once a week that summarized recent trends in snow, weather and avalanche activity. Last winter, largely based on feedback from our users, WAC started issuing Advisories with Danger Ratings once a week according to the North American Danger Scale. After some internal discussions with input from the Forest Service National Avalanche Center and other small avalanche centers around the country, the WAC is going to move forward to an "Avalanche, Snow, and Weather Summary" format for this winter. The national policy governing how avalanche centers operate will be changing over the coming year, and at the WAC we want to stay ahead of the curve and provide you, our users, with the best avalanche safety information possible.

So what does this all mean for you? Instead of issuing an overall Danger Rating (Moderate, Considerable, etc.), the WAC is going to focus its Advisory on the Avalanche Problems instead of an overall hazard level. The Avalanche Problem (wind slab, persistent slab, etc.) describes the nature of the current avalanche danger, and offers advice on how to manage the risk. Since the Wallowa Avalanche Center does not issue an Advisory product every day of the week, we feel that this more nuanced approach will better deal with the complexities of snow and avalanche phenomena and will remain more relevant in between Advisories. Conditions can change fast in the winter backcountry, but the type and character of avalanches possible with the current snowpack, and the strategies we can employ to manage them will remain much more consistent day-to-day than an overall rating of avalanche hazard.

For more information about the Avalanche Problems, I've included links to two educational resources, courtesy of our friends at the statewide avalanche centers in Utah and Colorado.

Avalanche Problems Definitions from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. This page does an excellent job of explaining the nine Avalanche Problems in simple terms. Although the icons they use are a little different, the list of problem types and travel advice are the same across U.S. avalanche forecasting centers.

Avalanche Problems Toolbox from the Utah Avalanche Center. This article delves deeper into the concept and explores strategies for managing risk with regard to different Avalanche Problems a little more fully.

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Safe backcountry travel requires preparation, planning, and experience. This website provides you some planning tools, but does not attempt to provide you with all the information required. If you travel in the winter backcountry, we strongly urge you to consider advanced education. Please see our education page for information on local opportunities.