Avalanche Safety Series: Forecast
Is it safe to go today? Should you continue on?
Before you head into backcountry avalanche terrain, you need to ensure you’ve read and understood the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory (NZAA) for the region you’ll be visiting. In this article we’ll outline what this means.
NZ Mountain Safety Council avalanche forecasters produce advisories for 12 regions across NZ. Typically, an updated advisory is produced every day during winter and spring to help participants stay safe.
Why do you need the forecast?
The avalanche forecast is very much like the weather forecast. It’s something you should check every time you go into the hills. Depending on what the forecast contains you may need to adjust your plans in order to avoid dangerous terrain (and by this we mean terrain that may have an increased danger of avalanches).
The avalanche forecast will provide you a broad range of information, such as:
- A general description of any avalanche concerns
- The specific danger rating over three defined elevations
- What types of avalanches are most likely to occur (the Avalanche Problems). For each of these dangers you’ll see:
- A description of the risk
- the trend i.e. is the risk increasing or decreasing
- the likelihood of an avalanche occurring
- the predicted size
- the time of day the risk is most likely
- what aspects and elevations are of concern, for example, North facing slopes above 1800m.
The video below will help explain the Danger Scale in more detail