Avalanche info center up and running | AspenTimes.com

Avalanche info center up and running

Bob Berwyn
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. ” Colder temperatures, along with a dusting of snow this week, could improve the outlook for Thanksgiving ski conditions in western Colorado.

The best chance for snow is Tuesday night, according to the first forecast of the season from the Boulder-based Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), which started up operations this week. A few inches could pile up by Wednesday morning with unsettled weather remaining in the forecast for the rest of the holiday.

The avalanche center has upgraded its website (http://avalanche.state.co.us) with a few new features, including more archived reports on avalanche accidents and a Google Maps platform.

The best way to get the latest weather forecasts and updated avalanche conditions via email is to join the avy center friends group. Those grassroots donations via the friends group account for about 25 percent of the center’s annual budget.

The CAIC has also added some functions to the forecast map. Rolling the mouse over any zone to get a simple statement of the avalanche problem and a travel recommendation. At the bottom you can change the selection so you can see the Avalanche Danger Rose for each zone. The map page serves as a one-stop porthole for the meat of the site.

As for the longer-term weather outlook, the storm track could dive down into Colorado in time to deliver some good dumps for the Christmas holiday, according to John Henz, of HDR Weather Inc.

Henz said he sees some hopeful signs in the larger pattern that the season will bring at least decent snows. He is cautiously optimistic for the season, suggesting that the timing of this year’s La Nina pattern will work in Colorado’s favor.

The storm track is looking significantly different from past La Nina years that were characterized by fairly serious drought conditions in the southern Rockies.

“The ocean temperature patterns in the central Pacific suggest that the storm track will dive down out of the Pacific Northwest with cold air and deliver powder from Christmas into January, said Henz, who also forecasts for the Colorado River District. “For Christmas, the odds are two out of three in our favor. But I’m not so sure we’ll get good Easter snow this year,” Henz said, describing the late season outlook as “iffy.”

Henz said his company plans to offer a Colorado skiers snowcast beginning sometime in late December at http://www.hdrweather.com.

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