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New website helps backcountry explorers find avalanche conditions

CAIC has updated its website to include new avalanche forecasting tools for backcountry explorers.

COLORADO, USA — Snow has returned to the high country, which also means an increased risk of avalanche.

And the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has launched a new website helping users looking for avalanche conditions in Colorado.

“The goal is to give people the best information about avalanche conditions in Colorado so they can use that to make good decisions and stay safe from avalanches,” said Ethan Greene, CAIC director.

Greene said the updates represent three major changes: technology upgrades, a new publishing time for forecasts, and a new way to navigate the mapping and location tools.

“We’re moving from issuing avalanche forecasts from static forecast zone, regions that are drawn based on climatology, to regions we pick each day based on avalanche conditions,” Greene explained.

“People are trained to look at a map, click on something, and type in a place they’re interested in. That’s what we’ve created. We’ve created a place where you look at map, pick a place, we created the best forecast we have for that area – whether specific for that mountain or a whole area.”

Also, CAIC will now publish two-day avalanche forecasts later in the day, rather than in the morning.

“The reason is, we are encouraging people to plan ahead. The whole avalanche education industry is doing the same,” Greene said.

He said people will have the opportunity to review a forecast in the afternoon, and plan ahead for their next-day adventure.

“In avalanche education, we’ve moved to really teaching people to plan ahead. We want to make sure you pick a recreation goal that matches the avalanche conditions and weather conditions,” Greene said. “We really want to make sure people have the best information possible when making their plans.”

Friends of CAIC is an organization that financially supports avalanche forecast and education throughout Colorado. The group also has a trailhead program which includes information and signage, as well as trailhead coordinators to talk with people about the avalanche forecast.

“I am personally a backcountry skier, I ride a snowmobile,” said Aaron Carlson, Executive Director of Friends of CAIC. So I am checking the avalanche forecast daily throughout the winter. I think its super important to get the forecast before you head into the backcountry. It’s a resource for us. Its part of our toolbox as we’re making decisions when we travel in the backcountry.”

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