An Update from the Avalanche Center
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Introduction, From the Director
This is the ninth newsletter of the season. Earlier this season they were much more regular,but in late January after the last issue I had to travel on short notice across the country for a death in the family. It's been hard to get entirely back on track, and although work has continued on the site and the store has been operating it has taken about 2 months to get reorganized enough for this newsletter to come out.
Since it's been so long there is actually a lot to report, and I hope we will be back on the 7-10 day schedule now. When there is a lot of news it is hard to balance sharing all of it with keeping the length of the newsletter short and we will now be trying to use some new blogs on the website to post some of the more detailed information. This newsletter will then just link to particular entries.
One thing that is new on the newsletter format itself are navigation tabs at the top and our standard navigation bar at the bottom. This is an advantage of the new html format and allows you to go directly from this newsletter to the main page of any section.
The long break in communicating has not helped our contributions and financial picture. Quite a few annual memberships have expired in the last 6 weeks or so, if you are one of them we hope you'll renew. Members have complete access to the incidents database including all features and all reports, they get a discount in the store at any time, and there is a discount on our Avalanche Institute Level 1 course as well as a special introductory deal for trying out a couple modules.
We'd like to thank those that do make a donation each year, of any amount. Thanking each donor is not a strong point. At one time, long ago, we did that. But our budget and our resources have shrunk and most of our supporters do prefer to see efforts go into the project directly.
The Goodsearch toolbar still appears to be underutilized, although transactions take time to show up. To support avalanche information at no cost to yourself go directly to the toolbar page or get more information here: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/contribute/goodshop.php
It is also now possible to designate a percentage of your ebay selling price to us (and receive credit for the ebay fees on that amount): https://www.charity.ebay.com/charity/Cyberspace-Snow-and-Avalanche-Center/42453
New - Section Blogs
We have just installed the nucleus open-source software for blogs. This was chosen because it will let us create and manage different blogs in different website locations with one central installation.
Each section will have its own blog. One use for these will be to shorten these updates by linking to blog entries where more of the details will be posted. As you read on you will see that we are starting with this issue. Right now we have different blogs for the Incidents section, the Store, and an administrative blog in the Organization (About Us) section.
Another benefit of the blogs is that they are interactive. Feel free to ask questions or offer feedback and opinions on specific entries by commenting. Only approved authors can post new entries but if you would like to add something to any of the blogs, or want to propose a new blog you can maintain on our site, let us know by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Guest entries are welcome.
The "Current Quiz"
The Snow Profiles quiz has been up long enough for use of it to drop off, but we do not have any new ones prepared yet. (Even though we have been taking the questions from existing quizzes in our Level 1 course it still takes a surprising amount of time to get something into the right format to use outside the courseware.)
There was a request for our weather quiz, which is actually on precipitation and not any broader weather topics. We have posted this one again so if you discovered our Current Quiz since we first ran it you can try it now. Hopefully it will just be a week or so until a new one is created.
For the Snow Profiles quiz there was an average of 78.74%, the median was 83.5%, and 16.67% of the participants got a perfect score on their first try.
Incidents and Spring
The Incidents section is still being maintained and has been kept quite current for fatalities in the US and Canada. It is also current for fatalities in Switzerland. Most reports have been filed in the searchable database and need to be found that way. Only a few of the most recently added ones are on the table on the main page.
For this season we have 38 incident entries and 44 fatalities entered at this time. Our searchable database now has 1652 accident reports going back to the 1998-1999 season that can be searched, sorted and filtered.
It's easy to start feeling like the worst of the winter (in terms of avalanche risks, not skiing!) is over by now but that is not the case, at least in many years. A quick analysis of last years fatalities in the US and Canada shows that a large percentage happened in March and April, so don't let the early transition towards spring lead to complacency.
There are some comments with a couple graphs from last season on the Incidents Section Blog.
We finally have flotation packs online in the store now. We've carried them all season in theory but haven't had time to really get them added online. We can provide you with ABS packs and the Backcountry Access pack. This news is posted in a bit more detail in the Avalanche Store Blog.
The current members discount is 15%, which is applied across the board to all non-sale items. Members should log in before shopping and the cart will specify at the top what the current discount is and apply it automatically. Members also pay no shipping this way.
By the next update we will have items in stock on sale to move them out as we get into the late season. We first post these in the members section, then they get moved to the public sale page.
The Social Media Project
Back in December and January we were excited about an offer we had received from Wildfire Studios to help us develop a stronger and more useful social media presence. They are supposedly an online marketing company of some kind. This turned out to be rather disappointing. Communication from them was poor, their expectations were not clear, and in the end it seemed like they had a lot of emphasis on hiring their suggested "creative team" for $35 a month (ongoing) to do simple html and layout that we've done in-house for fifteen years. We didn't buy into the cost of their team, and they didn't bother communicating with us.
A longer description of our experience with them is posted on the Admin Blog in the Organization section. It may be of interest to anyone considering any involvement with them. The Admin Blog will be used for a variety of topics like this - experiences with products, services and offers, software we use, etc. As well as things like financial information, which we will hopefully have something on next time after catching up on some accounting.
We are up to 790 friends on Facebook and adding a few more each day. Are you one of them? If you are have you suggested us to any of your friends?