Welcome to BTAC’s new website. This website contains the National Forecast Platform which is a joint effort between USFS avalanche centers and the National Avalanche Center to present and store snow and avalanche information to backcountry travelers across a wide range of experience and skill levels in a format that is consistent across forecast centers. Avalanche Centers (AC’s) operate independently and, until recently, have used a wide range of web technology to collate and distribute critical public avalanche safety information. Differences between operations contributes to inconsistencies in public safety messaging and makes collecting avalanche information difficult at the national scale. Additionally, reliable web technology is costly to build and maintain. A shared web platform reduces costs and redundancies within the USFS avalanche center network and creates a more seamless experience for users moving from one avalanche center website to the next. The forecast platform presents information using graphics and a display that follows best practices discovered through extensive research and usability studies. You can read more about effective public avalanche forecasting user groups here and about the model used to forecast avalanches here.
You’ll notice significant changes to the way in which you submit an observation. We believe this platform is a big step forward in usability in submission as well as retrieval of snow and avalanche data. You’ll find uploading photos and videos easier along with drop down selectors to make entry a breeze. You can also choose a simplified observation over the advanced form.
The observation platform is designed to be used outside of our forecast areas. Southeast Idaho, the Bighorn, Sierra Madre and Snowy Mountains have all seen avalanche fatalities. Until resources are available to provide avalanche forecasts in these areas, using this observation platform to share information may be your best tool to stay informed and to inform others. Also, you’ll find weather stations and webcams for these regions on a map under the Weather menu -> Weather Stations. If you have a weather station or webcam you’d like to see included, or a problem with an existing one, reach out to us at email@example.com.
Please submit observations! We have just five forecasters covering the third largest forecast area of any Forest Service avalanche center. We need your submissions to help us remain as accurate as possiblle in this huge area! If you are worried about what your peers think of your submission, you can hide your name from the public. If you are afraid that you will reveal your secret powder stash, write in general terms of aspect and elevation if you really feel the need, but please submit the ob!
Some advanced tools for visualizing avalanche occurrence data are not yet available on this website. We are currently working to recreate the radial plot and other tools. Bear with us as we work to provide these tools not just on this site but on every site that uses the national forecast platform. The new tools offer some advantages that you should explore. You’ll be able to use the new platform map and sortable chart not only to locate avalanche events but also locations where collapses and cracking were observed. Avalanche event archives are also available under the Observations tab menu -> Avalanche Events Archive. Continued collaboration between centers working to provide useful tools for understanding the avalanche hazard will hopefully continue to reduce the rate of fatalities across the country.
Weather and snowfall observations have changed locations. For locals who have been accessing what is colloquially known as “the Big Sheet”, that product remains here under the Weather menu -> 24 Hour Data Summary. If you want to look at raw data and associated snowfall graphs, click on the weather station and select various time periods and graphs snowfall, SWE, temperature or wind. These data points will soon be included in a custom weather table associated with each forecast.