Office days start in Boulder at 4 a.m., which means that Snook has to leave his house in Dillon at 2:30. Sometimes, he sleeps in the back of his truck to cut the commute. The office, which the avalanche center shares with the NOAA weather service, is filled with computers. At 4 a.m. there are three men working, and 40 different screens flashing radar maps, weather data and satellite images. Snook, who has a PhD in meteorology looks at the ones showing humidity, wind direction and speed, and storm patterns, because those are the factors that most affect snow.
After he finishes the weather report Snook turns to the next part of his job—creating avalanche forecasts for the ten mountain zones across the state. He considers several different things: the weather report he has just put together, the history of the snowpack, observations that he gets from people across the state, and what he has observed himself. The forecast includes a discussion of what’s been happening—particularly if they have been recent slides, areas that could potentially slide, and a danger rating, which takes into account elevation, direction, and snow conditions.