By Jim Stanford on November 16, 2012
The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center began issuing its online forecasts this week loaded with new graphics and features, in what forecaster Bob Comey calls a “soft opening” for the site.
Avalanche hazard and mountain weather forecasts are available for the Teton area twice daily, at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Forecasts for the Greys River and Togwotee Pass areas are posted each morning.
New this year is a section called “Avalanche Problems,” which explains the type of hazard backcountry users should look for. A graphic illustrates the aspects and elevations where the problem can be found, and other metrics show the size, likelihood and distribution, as well as whether the trend is growing worse.
The center received grants from the Forest Service and 1 Percent for the Tetons to upgrade the service, which received more than 1.3 million visits via web, email and phone (307-733-2664) last winter. Online page views were up 65 percent, while the number of phone calls dropped in half.
The redesign is part of an effort by avalanche centers across the country to have a “common look” to their sites, Comey said. The Bridger-Teton worked with counterparts in the Sierras, Utah and Sun Valley, Idaho, to share information consistently. More features are yet to come, Comey said, including improved links to other centers and a national map where viewers can see where avalanche danger is high and whether any warnings have been issued.
Comey cautioned that programmers still are working out a few bugs, so visitors to the site should be patient. The avalanche center also is upgrading its email and smartphone versions. The Facebook page has become more handy.
Two avalanches were reported yesterday on the west slope of the Tetons at Grand Targhee. The latest “problem” is a persistent slab that lies upon a melt-freeze crust formed in October.
(Photo by Lindsey Fell)