Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center reopens
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
May 26, 2011
JACKSON, WYOMING – The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center will reopen Friday, May 27, 2011 to help inform the public of avalanche hazards.
Unprecedented snow depths persist in the mountains (over 13 feet deep at 9,500 feet in the Teton Range). These record snow depths present the potential for large dangerous avalanches to occur in areas that may not have experienced avalanche activity for many years. "We are in a unique situation this year," said Bob Comey, Avalanche Center Meteorological Technician. "May snow depths are deeper than anything we have seen in the last 45-years," he said. At times, conditions may become unstable and large destructive avalanches may occur. Even small avalanches can travel long distances entraining significant volumes of wet loose snow and pose a danger to climbers, hikers, skiers, snowmobilers, snowboarders and snowshoers. "The sun is strong at this time of year," said Comey. ‘We are likely going to see avalanches in unique areas."
Easy access to steep snow covered terrain exists and rescue resources may be strained during the busy holiday weekend. To help inform the public of the hazards associated with avalanches the Bridger-Teton National Forecast Avalanche Center will issue daily avalanche hazard bulletins for the Teton Area beginning on Friday, May 27. These avalanche hazard bulletins will be posted on our website at www.jhavalanche.org by 7 AM. "The potential exists for lightning to damage our network of remote automated weather stations," Comey said. Patience regarding our ability to provide this valuable service will be necessary. People who observe avalanche events are invited to report those observations to the avalanche center via our website or by leaving a message at 307-739-2607.
Backcountry travelers who venture into steep snow covered terrain should be careful. They should be prepared with the proper equipment and knowledge to make life or death decisions regarding travel in avalanche terrain. "This is a different situation than in the winter," said Comey. The assessment and mitigation of the hazard from wet snow avalanches requires an expect level of skill and vast experience. This hazard is best managed by avoiding steep snow covered terrain when snow surfaces are soft. "Rescues may be difficult and delayed," said Comey. "It is important that anyone heading out into the snow-covered Forest be experienced, knowledgeable and prepared," he said.