West Central Montana Avalanche Center

POSITION: Avalanche Forecaster

POSITION TYPE: Full-time, seasonal

LOCATION: Missoula, Montana

DATE POSTED: June 21, 2022

CLOSING DATE: September 20, 2022

RATE OF PAY: $24.00-$27.00/hr DOE    

BACKGROUND:

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center (WCMAC) is seeking candidates for the position of Avalanche Forecaster for winter 2022/2023. The WCMAC is provided through the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation (WCMAF) and operates under a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the Lolo, Bitterroot, and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. The WCMAC is a Type 2 avalanche center that produces backcountry avalanche forecasts for the west-central Montana forecast area. Avalanche forecasts appear on Missoulaavalanche.org on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings throughout the winter operating season (e.g., December – April). Special updates and warnings are issued as needed during periods of high avalanche danger.

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

Avalanche Forecasters are responsible for generating backcountry forecasts and furthering the development of avalanche center programs. This position requires a strong background in snow science, avalanche dynamics, and mountain weather meteorology.

This position requires routine fieldwork in remote mountainous terrain and a high level of physical fitness. A successful candidate must possess excellent backcountry travel skills and be proficient in snowmobiling in steep backcountry terrain in adverse weather conditions.

Avalanche Forecasters work in close liaison with USDA Forest Service Avalanche Centers and state and local government agencies (e.g., USFS National Avalanche Center, Montana FWP, University of Montana, Missoula County SAR, and the National Weather Service).

This position requires detailed planning, reporting, and communicating clearly with a broad audience range. The aptitude to manage multiple projects at any given time is also required.

This position requires maintaining strong working relationships with the broader national avalanche community and helping advance the WCMAC into a Type 1 avalanche center. A professional background in avalanche education is beneficial to contribute to and collaborate within the WCMAF education program.

Additional responsibilities include:

  • Issue backcountry avalanche forecast information for public dissemination.
  • Issue Avalanche Warnings through Missoulaavalanche.org, the National Weather Service, and local media outlets.
  • Proficient with video editing software, Microsoft Office, Google Suite, WordPress, and the ability to troubleshoot routine website problems as necessary. 
  • Aide in avalanche investigations when needed.
  • Act as an advisor and mentor for avalanche center volunteer(s) and intern(s).
  • Safely conduct fieldwork (as group leader) in avalanche terrain using backcountry skis or splitboard and snowmachine as means of travel.
  • Interpret National Weather Service products and models to write a daily mountain weather forecast.
  • Update website databases with snowpack, avalanche, weather, and other pertinent information for public dissemination.
  • Update social media outlets and write website articles on relevant topics.
  • Conduct interviews with local media (TV, radio, newspapers) as requested.
  • Interface with avalanche professionals in the community and emergency service organizations.
  • Other duties as assigned.

WORK ENVIRONMENT:

  • Fieldwork will be performed outdoors in remote mountain environments a minimum of three days a week. This work involves mountain travel in avalanche terrain, using vehicles, snowmobiles, skis, or splitboards.
  • The position requires irregular hours and extended shifts during the operating season to complete fieldwork, monitor the weather and snowpack, and communicate with other staff.

QUALIFICATIONS:

Essential Qualifications: 

  • Professional working knowledge of snow metamorphism, mountain weather, and avalanche phenomena
  • Advanced or expert off-trail snowmobile riding skills and the ability and interest in engaging and interacting with motorized users
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to concisely and effectively communicate with both professional and recreational audiences
  • Ability to work effectively under time constraints, including early in the morning
  • Remote-based computer hardware, software, and online application proficiency
  • Able to clearly and effectively communicate avalanche hazard and risk, using written and verbal communication
  • Ability to accept constructive criticism and use it to improve skills and job performance
  • Advanced (80-hour) wilderness first aid course (or equivalent)
  • Valid U.S. drivers license
  • American Avalanche Association (A3) PRO 2 or equivalent
  • Successful applicants must possess a diverse skill set and strong work ethic to contribute to daily operations.

Desirable Qualifications: 

  • Experience backcountry avalanche forecasting for a U.S. avalanche center
  • Experience with remote weather station instrumentation and the ability to assess, maintain and update weather station equipment
  • MS degree in a technical subject.
  • Advanced training in snow science and meteorology.
  • Training and professional experience in technical writing and scientific research.
  • Media experience (radio, TV, print, social media)
  • Ski or mountain guiding certification

WINTER OPERATING SEASON: This position’s assigned full-time, seasonal work period begins on November 1st, 2022, and concludes approximately April 15th, 2023. Onboarding begins October 17th, 2022.

CONTACT: Patrick Black, West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation, Executive Director

TO APPLY: Email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Name, email, and phone number.
  • Resume and references.
  • Cover Letter containing a brief description of your qualifications and interest in the position.