The first week of advisories are in the books and there was a ton of information presented in a variety of forms. If you felt overwhelmed last week rest assured you are not alone. We would like to take this time to explain the different methods that we use to share information. First up, the advisory. An advisory is a regular scheduled product that contains a danger rating as outlined by the National Avalanche Center. This is the product that you are most familiar with seeing if you have been following the WCMAC for the last few years. Avalanche advisories are issued Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Avalanche advisories are valid for 24 hours.
Avalanche Warnings are a special update that are issued when exceptional avalanche conditions exist. The purpose of a warning is “to save lives by alerting the public when avalanches are certain or very likely in many areas and when unusually dangerous avalanche conditions exist” (National Avalanche Center). If a warning is issued it means that the avalanche danger is High or Extreme That said, if the danger is high, a warning is not always issued, it depends on the distribution of the avalanche problem. Warnings can be issued at any time on any day and are valid for either 12 or 24 hours depending on conditions. After the specified time has passed a warning will either expire or be extended. When a warning is issued the information is automatically sent to a variety of government agencies and media outlets to inform the public.
Weather Updates are something new that we are trying this year. The idea is that on the days that there is no advisory or warning we will post a weather update. The weather updates contain information regarding the weather for the last 24 hours and basic avalanche concerns. The idea behind the Weather Updates is to provide users with more information to help inform decision making. There is also discussion of adding a weekly summary of the weather to recap weather events throughout the season. Stay tuned as we will post more on this possible addition.
We hope that this clarifies the differences between warnings, advisories, and updates and helps you better use the content we post.
Ski and Ride Safe