The forecasts are arguably the most important part of Snook’s job. They’re definitely the part that gets the most recognition. They are posted on the CAIC website, recorded on phone messages and, in some areas with very active backcountry communities, like the north San Juan mountains, broadcast over the radio.
Backcountry skiers, at least the smart ones, rely on the forecasts to give them an idea of where they can safely travel. Ski areas, like Vail and Aspen, depend on them to gauge avalanche danger within their resorts. The Colorado Department of Transportation, which is a major funder of the avalanche center, uses the forecast to decide what roads need avalanche control work to be safe. Jim Walker, the avalanche coordinator for CDOT, says that there are more than 200 slide paths that could impact highways in Colorado, and that the avalanche forecasts are “instrumental in our decisions to close roads.”