Curious about Northwest avalanche history?

  • Lowell_Skoog
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24 May 2020 18:36 - 25 May 2020 08:50 #233770 by Lowell_Skoog
Curious about Northwest avalanche history? was created by Lowell_Skoog
I've been doing some research on Northwest avalanche history for a writing project. I've gathered information from several sources:
  • NWAC.us website
  • The Snowy Torrents (all 5 volumes, though 1987-95 isn't available yet)
  • Seattle Times (1/1/1986 to 1/1/1997, to fill the gap in Snowy Torrents)
  • Info from the Colorado Avalanche Info Center (CAIC), also to fill the Snowy Torrents gap
  • An old NWAC database sent to me by Mark Moore
I've distilled this information into a table on my website:
www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/web/www-nwac-us.html

Since I'm particularly interested in backcountry skiing and riding, I've used different colors to distinguish backcountry accidents from other kinds of accidents. The results are interesting to look at.

Note, for example the paucity of backcountry accidents before the mid-1980s. The 1990s also seem light, though I think my sources should cover that period pretty well.

Things pick up noticeably in the early 2000s, with a lot more backcountry accidents. By the late 2010s, backcountry skiing and riding accidents make up the majority of the reports.

It's also interesting to see how snowmobile accidents took off in the early 2000s, presumably due to more capable machines.

I'm continuing to noodle this stuff, but I'd be happy to get any additions, corrections, or other observations you might have. Plenty of food for thought...
Last edit: 25 May 2020 08:50 by Lowell_Skoog.
The following user(s) said Thank You: PS44, Micah

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  • MtnPavlas
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25 May 2020 11:18 #233772 by MtnPavlas
Replied by MtnPavlas on topic Curious about Northwest avalanche history?
Very cool, Lowell - thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the fruits of your writing project.

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  • Skier of the Hood
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25 May 2020 21:38 - 26 May 2020 07:58 #233777 by Skier of the Hood
Replied by Skier of the Hood on topic Curious about Northwest avalanche history?
I would consider contacting Pascal Hagaeli at Simon Fraser University. He is our closest avalanche academic just over the border in Vancouver. You never know he may have a student working on such a project as we speak.

https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=LRrqMKIAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate

Certainly many accidents go unreported if they don't result in a rescue. If you want to be able to truly compare the rate of being caught in an avalanche between disciplines I feel you would have to constrain what percentage of those accidents are actually reported. 

Not sure how you feel about it, but I consider British Columbia to be apart of the NW... Edit: I notice you don't consider BC as being apart of the NW (;, but perhaps the links below may still prove useful to you.

https://www.avalanche.ca/incidents

This is a good read
https://www.avalancheassociation.ca/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=5143665

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.avalancheassociation.ca/resource/resmgr/files/avalancheaccidentsv4.pdf

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Last edit: 26 May 2020 07:58 by Skier of the Hood.

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26 May 2020 08:02 - 26 May 2020 11:58 #233779 by Lowell_Skoog
Replied by Lowell_Skoog on topic Curious about Northwest avalanche history?

Skier of the Hood wrote: Not sure how you feel about it, but I consider British Columbia to be apart of the NW... Edit: I notice you don't consider BC as being apart of the NW (;, but perhaps the links below may still prove useful to you.


Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

For my project, I'm limiting my scope to essentially the NWAC forecasting and reporting region, from the Canadian border to Mt Hood. It's true that British Columbia can be considered a part of the NW geographically, but since it is a separate country, it's largely a separate community. My project is very much concerned with the community south of the border, and avalanche history is just a small part of my scope.
Last edit: 26 May 2020 11:58 by Lowell_Skoog.

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