This NOAA forecast product is available at http://origin.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/pwpf/wwd_accum_probs.php?ftype=probabilities&fpd=72&ptype=snow
Gosh, I can hardly contain my excitement ... Snow and snow and snow is coming to our mountains! I was getting tired of hearing about snow in other states and countries.
It has been a while since I shared informative maps of MCS. I think that today's posting is ideal. We can look at this maps of Pilot and Freeman Peak and daydream. And imagine where we would be skiing.
|Pilot/Freeman Metric Topo|
Next - slope angle map. It is such an important part of ski touring and riding snow. Slope angles are responsible for BIG smiles.
|Pilot and Freeman Peaks Slope Angle Map|
For the map included above, areas in red have angles between 35-42 degrees, in orange between 28-35 degrees, in yellow 20-28 degrees, and green below 20 degrees. This map allows to easily identify uphill tracking routes to Pilot and Freeman Peaks. Once in the terrain, it is better to measure slope angles. And with today's phones and great slope angles apps, there are no absolutely no excuse not to know the slope angle before dropping in.
Other times we want to know where the snow stays cold and protected from solar radiation. A map with Northerly aspect is helpful.
|Pilot and Freeman Peaks Northerly Aspects|
This algorithm attempts to graphically illustrate the areas where the snow accumulates or ablates. Blue color indicates where the snow accumulates. Red colors show where the snow is blown away by the wind. The output below assumes winds from the SW during the precipitation event.
During the next few weeks, I will be doing a depth measurements at Mores Creek Summit to test this model.
The Pioneer fire impact on MCS has been a usual topic of conversation. Next map showing the extent of the area burnt at Pilot Peak.
Changing gears - I have been to a number of professional avalanche educators workshops as well as snow science/avalanche conferences where it is discussed decision making in the context of groups. Unusual to me (I love to talk) I choose to remain silent. I believe most folks know how to make GOOD decisions. Of course, we make mistakes and that is not going to change. The key to consistent good decision making is having relevant information. And good information requires situational awareness.
Lately, I have seen a good intention focus about how to get folks going to the backcountry to make better decision in groups. I rather see more effort about how to make the group better inform and improve their situational awareness. I have seen so many groups, many with avalanche education, being led by the most articulate, self-appointed leader, for all practical purposes nullifying group decision.
And life has provided too much evidence that of bad group decision making. Hence, I am skeptical of the power of a group thinking to make good decisions consistently. Especially when more often than not, there is a lot of misinformation and in particular a lack of situational awareness within the group. Politics provides many examples of this; Nazi Germany, Trump election, and the list go on. In theory, well-informed groups should consistently make good decisions, but that is not the case in real life.
Map knowledge is one of the fundamental pillars to be well informed and develop situational awareness about the landscape in which we travel and ski. Maps are essential for planning. Perusing over maps in their various forms makes us experts in that area.
Similarly, reading about weather forecasts, reviewing forecasters discussions, and contemplating at weather maps is another pillar of situational awareness. Spending time analyzing weather forecasts familiarizes us with what the atmosphere will do (snow, winds, rain, temperatures, visibility, ...) and how the landscape, topography and WEATHER interact.
The message is that if we want to maximize our enjoyment while in the mountains and be safe we need to improve our situational awareness skills. And a great start is to be obsessed about having the best maps and sourcing the best weather forecast products of the areas we backcountry ride. Not only we will be minimizing avalanche risks, but we will be maximizing the FUN factor by selecting locations to ride the most awesome pow!
Be safe out there this weekend. Remember we have several weak layers now buried deeper in the snowpack. Check the previous posting for details.