By Rachael Brown
It may come as no surprise to learn that Mount Washington, the "Home of the World's Worst Weather," is avalanche-prone.
What may come as a surprise is the number of avalanches.
According to Justin Preisendorfer of the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, "For the first time this season, a week and a half ago, we used the extreme rating (black) for avalanche danger.
"You could actually pick out evidence that in the 14 or 16 forecast areas, all but one avalanched. We probably had a minimum of 12 avalanches, some multiple, maybe even as high as 20 or 24 in a 24-hour period,"
In the avalanche center's forecast areas — Tuckerman and Huntington ravines — there could be as many as 100 recorded avalanches in any given year, said Preisendorfer, Androscoggin assistant district ranger.
"While it is typical for about 100 avalanches, there could be as many as 1,000 (though) maybe that's stretching a little. It is difficult to tell unless you are at the right place at the wrong time.
"The majority of avalanches take place during storms," explained Preisendorfer, adding that fortunately the storms keep people away.
At 65, the avalanche center is the oldest forecasting program in the country. It is also one of only 19 in the U.S. and the only center east of the Rockies.
The Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest operates the center.
Preisendorfer, one of the three snow rangers and lead forecast supervisor, was on hand to talk about the center, what's new this year, how they forecast, how they get warnings out to the public and how to keep out of danger in avalanche terrain.
- Category: Local News