Craftsmanship and Relevancy in Snowpack Observations. By Colin Zacharias

The Weight of Evidence:
The important job of gathering and interpreting snowpack information includes evaluating the weight of each bit of information (type, craftsmanship, accuracy, timing, relevancy, and verification) as it is applied to snowpack instability and avalanche hazard. Experienced practitioners are aware of the variability of the terrain and snowpack and the challenges extrapolating and interpolating snowpack observations. The following checklist helps to ensure quality and relevancy of information:

  • Are the tests appropriate and suited to current avalanche characteristics?
  • How representative is the site (relating to the distribution/variability of the
    layer(s) of interest, and the extent of the avalanche problem)?
  • How skilled is the observer (craftsmanship and accuracy)?
  • Whether the information is verified with complementary tests?
  • Importantly, whether observer has experience extrapolating information from
    that specific site to the nearby avalanche problem?
  • Whether the observation has been confirmed by nearby operations/experts?

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