Unified North American Avalanche Danger Scale to be launched for the 2010/11 season

Backcountry avalanche centers across Canada and the United States will be using a new avalanche danger scale for the 2010/11 season. The new scale reduces some of the ambiguity of the previous scale, provides more definitive travel advice for backcountry recreationists, incorporates risk by referring to typical avalanche sizes expected, and utilizes icons recently adopted by European countries.

“It was great to be able to build upon and improve an already successful leader and Avalanche Risk Specialist for Parks Canada.

“It was especially encouraging to work closely with our Canadian colleagues to come up with a unified scale. This will only help in our efforts to promote avalanche forecasting consistency and to improve safety for the many people who recreate in the backcountry in both countries” according to Karl Birkeland, the U.S. lead on the project and an Avalanche Scientist with the USDA Forest Service National Avalanche Center.

This danger scale is the first time that the two countries have used the same scale, and is the result of a multi-year effort by the Canadian Avalanche Centre, Parks Canada, the USDA Forest Service, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The recent proposal by New Zealand’s Mountain Safety Centre to use the new scale starting in the 2011 southern hemisphere winter has further increased the international scope of the project.