The last days of April are approaching fast and, with that, many avalanche forecasting centers across North America end their daily bulletins for the season. Montana’s Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center and Flathead Avalanche Center have already thrown in the daily forecasting towel for the season and other centers, such as the Utah Avalanche Center and the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, are getting ready this week to call it quits for the summer months.
In Montana, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) ceased daily avalanche updates as of April 11, but notes on their website that avalanche conditions will continue to exist while snow remains in the mountains.
“Traveling in the backcountry requires careful snowpack evaluation,” says the GNFAC under their “Current Advisory” tab. “Avalanches don’t end until the snow melts.”
The Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) will be issuing weather-dependent avalanche reports through the end of the month.
“We will issue intermittent advisories through April as conditions warrant,” the UAC reports on its website. “The next advisory will be posted on Friday April 15, 2016.”
The UAC explains that the continued reporting on backcountry observations is important and asks skiers and riders to notify the UAC with pertinent updates on changing and dangerous avalanche conditions and field observations.
“We will continue to post observations as they are especially important to the backcountry community this time of year,” explains the UAC. “If you see anything you feel we should know about, please submit an observation.”
But while some forecasting becomes more infrequent, the Boulder-based Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) will continue to report, albeit more sporadically, throughout the next few months. Backcountry field forecasters for the CAIC take leave at the end of April, but a core forecasting crew and highway forecasters often work through the end of May.
“We go much longer than many of the other centers,” says CAIC Deputy Director Brian Lazar. “One of the reasons is that we are at a higher elevation and our avalanche problems continue much later into the spring. We also have highway forecasting to do. None of the other avalanche centers do that.”
In late April, the CAIC shifts away from daily regional forecasting, but for interested backcountry users, reports are still available, just not with the same localized, online graphic danger rating system.
“We move to a statewide avalanche discussion, which is issued three days a week, and we do that through Memorial Day,” Lazar says. “We do describe current weather, snowpack and avalanche conditions in these reports.”
Here is a list of the closing dates for many of the U.S. Avalanche Centers:
- Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center: CLOSED
- Flathead Avalanche Center: CLOSED
- Northwest Avalanche Center: Intermittent reporting through the end of May
- Utah Avalanche Center: Intermittent reporting throughout April
- Crested Butte Avalanche Center: Reporting will continue through April 17
- Sawtooth Avalanche Center: Reporting will continue through April 17
- Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center: Intermittent reporting throughout April
- Colorado Avalanche Information Center: Intermittent reporting though the end of May
- Mount Washington Avalanche Center: Intermittent reporting though the end of May
To stay informed on springtime snow conditions, visit your local avalanche center’s website and remember to always be prepared in the backcountry with proper avalanche rescue tools.