The 2018-2019 winter season has been incredible. With nearly 300” of snow reported so far this season, the conditions have truly been epic. Many of us have looked to the reports from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) to stay safe in the backcountry as well as while traveling in the mountains.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is a program within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Executive Director’s Office. The program is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Friends of the CAIC (FoCAIC) a 501c3 group. The mission of the CAIC is to provide avalanche information, education and promote research for the protection of life, property and the enhancement of the state’s economy.
Since 1950, avalanches have killed more people in Colorado than any other natural hazard, and in the United States, Colorado accounts for one-third of all avalanche deaths. The Colorado Avalanche Warning Center began issuing public avalanche forecasts in 1973 as part of a research program in the USDA-Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. The program moved out of the federal government and into the Colorado state government, becoming part of the Department of Natural Resources in 1983. The CAIC joined the Colorado Department of Transportation’s highway safety program in 1993. The Friends of the CAIC (a 501c3 group) formed in 2007 to promote avalanche safety in Colorado and support the recreation program of the CAIC.
About half of the CAIC’s funding comes from an intergovernmental agreement with CDOT to provide training and forecasting for highway maintenance operations. As part of the Department of Natural Resources, close to 40% of the Center’s funding come from the Severance Tax Fund. The rest of the funding to run the program comes from the United States Forest Service, local governments, the Friends of the CAIC, and from donations from people like us.
This Saturday, April 6th, Hideaway Park Brewery in downtown Winter Park hosts “Pints for CAIC”. $1 from every pint sold from 2 – 6 pm will be donated to the Friends of CAIC for avalanche forecasting and education. A CAIC forecaster will also be there for a chat and season snowpack summary at 4 pm.
This is our opportunity to give back to the organization that has worked tirelessly to keep us safe this winter. If you can’t make the event on Saturday, you can also make a donation at: avalanche.state.co.us.
It has been a winter of historic avalanches. When you are out and about this spring and even this summer, you can help CAIC document this historic activity by submitting an observation on the CAIC website: avalanche.state.co.us/observations/submit-a-report/. Your report doesn’t have to be super detailed, but location and extent (like damaged timber or structures) will be helpful, and, pictures are always awesome. Should be some great riding this spring – remember to get the forecast first, and know before you go, at colorado.gov/avalanche.