If you look at avalanche advisories other English-speaking countries like Canada and New Zealand, they will look similar to our advisory. Thanks to a grant obtained by the Utah Avalanche Center, several of the avalanche centers including those in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and in California/Nevada have come together to create this common look.
The avalanche advisory is designed for people who have taken at least an avalanche awareness class or preferably an avalanche Level 1 course. We don't expect a first time user to understand the contents of an advisory. This page explains the basic concepts of the advisory and how to read it.
The first section shows the danger rating by elevation and a bottom line summary:
The Mountain Graphic / Basic View
This graphic provides a general overview of the avalanche danger with a short paragraph on the "Bottom Line" information. This section many tell you whether you can safely walk you dog on a mountain trail or snowmobile on a mountain road. The rest of the advisory gives more specific avalanche information you will need for more specific trip planning decisions. For a tutorial on danger ratings click HERE.
Below this Bottom Line section you will find a brief Weather section followed by a summary of the recent snow and avalanche observations. In the Recent Observations section we have included an image slider that displays the videos, photos, and snowpits collected in the last 5 days.
There are many different kinds of avalanches and each has its own characteristics. Most Level 1 avalanche classes cover these various avalanche problems. For a quick tutorial, click HERE.
For each problem, we tell you both graphically and in text the characteristics of the problem including how easy it is to trigger and its size and distribution.
Likelihood of Triggering means the probability that a single person will trigger that type of avalanche in the terrain specified. The bottom position means it's unlikely to trigger an avalanche, the middle position means that it is possible and the top position means it's likely.
Size means the size of the avalanche. The bottom position means generally small avalanches that are fairly "manageable". The middle position means medium-sized avalanches that could easily bury a person. The top position means large, probably un-survivable avalanches.
Finally, remember this information is only for AVALANCHE TERRAIN, which is generally slopes steeper than 30 degrees (or flatter slopes locally connected to steeper terrain). Even on high danger days you can find much safer terrain if you stay on slopes less steep than about 30 degrees that are not underneath steeper terrain.