Avalanche official asks that all slides be reported | SummitDaily.com

Avalanche official asks that all slides be reported

Brad Sawtell, avalanche forecaster and educator Summit County Avalanche Office, Breckenridge

On Feb. 5, the Summit Daily News printed a story about two snowmobilers who triggered an avalanche. One barely escaped.

One of the riders reported the accident three days later. We want to encourage people to report these kinds of incidents to the Summit County Avalanche Office (SCAO) or to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) much sooner.

This would help for two reasons. First, we can get the word out quickly to many people via the local avalanche hotline, (970) 668-0600, and through our daily e-mail updates to the friends of the Avalanche Center, many of whom live in Summit County. This will help prevent accidents.

Second, accurate avalanche forecasts rely heavily on good and timely incoming data.

Colorado has had 115 avalanche fatalities since 1983, with 22 in Summit County since 1985. Historically, Summit County has led all others until just last year. There have been many more nonfatal accidents.

The SCAO was established to keep these statistics as low as possible and keep the public better informed of the local avalanche hazard and snowpack conditions.

Our goal is to reduce the number of accidents – and certainly fatalities. This can be done with your help by reporting significant avalanche events the same day you see them.

If you would like to report avalanche activity, please call the SCAO at (970) 547-0056 or e-mail scao@colorado.net. You can reach the CAIC’s main forecast office in Boulder at (303) 499-9650 or e-mail caic@qwest.net.

Useful information includes the specific location of the avalanche, the direction it faces and elevation.

Any dimensions, such as approximate width, length and depth of the slide also are helpful. You may not have all these details, but please be as accurate as possible with what you do report.

If you prefer to remain anonymous that’s OK. Obviously, if it involves a serious accident call 911 first. Thank you. We really do appreciate all of your support.

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