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Avalanche forecasts are crucial for public safety

Avalanche forecasts are crucial for public safety

by KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwrodhill

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 6:40 PM

PORTLAND -- On average, 28 people die in avalanches in the United States each year. 

As the popularity of winter mountain sports grows, so too does the need for dependable avalanche forecasts. 

The above photo shows a small avalanche on Mt. Hood.

The task to predict the stability of mountain snow fields is shared by the National Weather Service and  U.S.  Forest Service forecasters.

Classifications for avalanche danger are the following:

EXTREME:  Avoid all avalanche terrain

HIGH:  Very dangerous conditions, do not travel in avalanche terrain

CONSIDERABLE:  Dangerous avalanche conditions, evaluate snowpack and plot routes very carefully and be conservative when making decisions

MODERATE:  Avalanche conditions are heightened in specific types of terrain, evaluate terrain and snow carefully and identify features of concern

LOW:  Conditions are generally safe but look out for unstable snow on isolated terrain features

Currently, avalanche forecasters do not have computer models that forecast with any degree of accuracy. 

Good weather information and local experience with the terrain are relied upon to make decisions regarding safety concerns. 

Read the entire report and learn more at:


Meteorologist Rod Hill