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VAWS: NWS Support for Avalanche Forecasting Operations in Southcentral Alaska
Speaker: Kyle Van Peursem, NOAA
Snow avalanches are the most deadly natural hazard on National Forest land, killing around 25-30 people in the U.S. each year, with 3-4 of those fatalities occurring in Alaska. Avalanches also pose a serious threat to transportation infrastructure across the state, including vital highways and railroads.
Several avalanche forecasting centers work throughout the winter to help keep Alaskans safe by issuing backcountry avalanche forecasts and performing avalanche control work.
Weather is one of three main contributors to avalanche hazard and a successful avalanche forecasting center relies heavily on accurate and timely weather observations and forecasts.
This presentation will discuss ways in which various NWS offices provide support to avalanche forecasting operations and highlights how the NWS Anchorage office has engaged its core partners while providing vital support during significant avalanche events across Southcentral Alaska.
Additionally, this presentation will discuss new and up and coming technology, including testing of a coupled weather and snow cover model to simulate snowpack and avalanche conditions throughout several mountain ranges in Southcentral Alaska.