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Avalanche Canada’s new forecasting system more accurately reflects variations in snowpack, weather conditions

By Contributor
November 28th, 2022

Avalanche Canada is pleased to introduce a new flexible forecast system that makes it easier for users to get the information they need to plan safe trips into the backcountry.

With the new system, forecast regions are dynamic, with boundaries that change in response to localized conditions.

This allows forecasters to communicate variability more effectively. For example, regions impacted by weather systems or existing avalanche problems can be separated from areas that are not affected.

When conditions are relatively uniform over large areas, users can expect to see fewer forecast regions. Conversely, when variability is high there will be more forecast regions to reflect this. Forecasters will determine the regional boundaries every day, so there are no longer fixed forecast regions or region names.

The information in the forecasts is now more tailored to expected conditions.

“We’ve made these changes to tackle one of the biggest problems with our old system, which was variability in conditions across large regions,” explains Grant Helgeson, Avalanche Canada’s Product Manager.

“We’re excited about this new approach and we’re confident it will provide a better experience for our users.”

The Avalanche Canada homepage map also has a new look and feel. Users can quickly determine their forecast region by using the new search functionality. To do this, users simply enter their destination in the search bar.

The map will centre on that location, and the user can open the corresponding forecast with a single click.

The regions are now coloured to reflect their highest danger rating. This, along with the ability to hover over a region and see an abbreviated description of that rating, enables users to better visualize the danger where they plan to recreate.

Map layers and other pertinent information can be added or removed from the forecast map, and we have implemented a colour-blind safe version to improve accessibility. These design changes reflect best practices in risk communication and are consistent with the approach used by most public forecasting agencies worldwide.

The structure of the information included in the daily forecasts will remain the same, with a danger rating for each elevation band, along with the expected trend for the following two days. Each forecast still provides terrain and travel advice, identifies avalanche problems, and delivers summaries of the snowpack, weather, and regional avalanche observations.

To learn more watch the Flexible Forecast Regions video.

About Avalanche Canada

Avalanche Canada is Canada’s national public avalanche safety organization. We are a non-profit, non- government organization with a vision to inspire, engage, and empower recreationists to enjoy Canada’s winter backcountry and be safe from avalanches.

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