Yukon avalanche forecasts to rely on mobile app users this season

Yukon avalanche forecasts to rely on mobile app users this season

People who ski or snowmobile in Yukon's backcountry this winter are going to see changes to avalanche forecasts.

The Yukon Avalanche Association didn't get all of its usual funding this season. That means backcountry users will get a reduced outlook of avalanche danger.

Yukon avalanche field technicians normally would test the snow pack in high use areas such as the Wheaton Valley and the White Pass on a regular basis. The information they gathered would be given to Avalanche Canada.

Now, the Yukon avalanche forecast will have to rely on skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers and other recreational users submitting field observations and photos using an app on their mobile device called Mountain Information Network.

The Yukon forecast region has been removed from the main Avalanche Canada map web page. Avalanche Canada has now developed a new Hot Zone Report web-based information page.

The Hot Zone report will provide people information about local conditions and avalanche risk assessment advice.

Karl Klassen, Avalanche Canada's Warning Service manager in Revelstoke, B.C., says weather forecasters will gather user generated information including forecast, snow conditions and photos to create a detailed look at possible risks of avalanche.

"That helps people understand what the conditions are and gives them some advice about how to manage the risk
that might be presented by conditions that we expect are existing there," said Klassen.

Klassen said although user information is good, outdoor enthusiasts still need to use common sense.

"Quite frankly if one person produces a mountain information network report and says the riding was great and there were no avalanches, that doesn't mean that there are no avalanche hazards. That simply means that's what the person saw at that given place at that given time."

Avalanche Canada hopes to launch its new Hot Zone Report by early December.

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