Avalanche Center Home Update - November 1, 2011

An Update from the Avalanche Center

November 1, 2011
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Introduction, From the Director

This is the second newsletter of the season, just about a week after the first. Actually it's a bit earlier than that in order to promote the fall sale that ends this coming weekend. You can get 25% off just about everything, or 30% as a member or by liking our Facebook page. There is some additional news as well but like the first one this is relatively short.

Halloween seems to have come and gone without the fright of any avalanches that we know of. It is still early, although not unprecedented, for any reports. It's not that there hasn't been snow in the US, but it all seems to have fallen in the east where nobody wants it!

Our budget situation remains tenuous but we will get through the November bills and expenses and hopefully at that point we will have more store sales and donations, followed by a successful auction in December. Thanks to those who did contribute after our first newsletter, it's been a good mix with some familiar names and some new ones.

Store Sale - 25% or more off!

This was announced in the first newsletter and via social media and all the details are on the website store. It ends on November 6. If you mention our Facebook Page and have Liked it we will give you 30% off! And if you log in as a member you not only get 30% off but it's applied automatically to everything in your cart, whether or not it includes a beacon.

Please - if you encounter any problems with the cart system or elsewhere in the store let us know so we can check them out and fix things. We only know there is a problem if it gets reported for the most part. We are not a big box high-tech retailer, but rather a non-profit retailing to help support our work.

New Ways to Contribute

We have several new ways to contribute. One is through the American Express Just Give program. You can use rewards points to donate, make recurring contributions, contribute in somebody else's name as a gift, or as a memorial. AmEx administers this program directly and sends any donations on to us.

We now have recurring contributions set up! You can choose an amount and an interval and the appropriate contribution will be made each month (or week, or whatever). This is an easy and effective way to support the avalanche center. A monthly contribution of $10 is very significant over the course of a year, yet less than many people spend on coffee in a week or beer in an evening.

Recurring donations can be made on the home page as well as the Contribute! page. We tried putting this at the top of the emailed newsletter template but it seems forms don't work in most email readers and websites. So we hope you'll consider doing this via our website.

Social Media

Be sure to look for us and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We have a Facebook Profile with about 1218 friends and a Facebook Page with just over 60 followers. Obviously we need to promote the page more, but it's already up from the last newsletter. And 9 people are "talking about it". Whatever that means it sounds good. We are also on Twitter.

Please help us by liking our posts and comments, sharing posts on the page or profile, and retweeting things. These things will get our posts out more effectively by encouraging Facebook to show them and not bury them. And be sure to suggest our profile and page to your friends.

One interesting thing some facebook users have done is to add us as a place they worked or as a past employer of ours, or suggested their location as ours. We've been approving these when facebook prompts us. Right now we are from Park City, at least for the last week or so. We are a global online project so we can be anywhere you tag us to be! It looks like we've also had four past employers now. So have some fun with Facebook and be a past employer or move us around.

2010-11 US Fatality Info

The Incidents Blog has been updated with a brief summary, including some graphs, for the US in the 2010-11 season. When we have a chance this will hopefully be extended to cover North America. All of the reports we did post last season are now in the searchable database and this was the basis for the blog update. Our collection for last season is not as globally complete as other years in the past due to diminishing resources. (Time as well as funding, and it's hard to get most people with relevant qualifications to invest too much time when there isn't funding to pay for it.)

It was not a bad season compared to recent 5-year averages. It was just below the bottom of that range by one or two fatalities. One thing that was a bit unusual was that April was the month with the most fatalities, followed by March. January, which usually ranks near the top, was rather uneventful. At least part of the country had a very wet spring and cool early summer resulting in snowpacks well above average depth. It is possible that the main limiting factor in May and even into June was the fact that user days drop off dramatically at that point regardless of conditions.

The danger rating was not known for all of the incidents, but for those we have this information for the greatest number of incidents were during Moderate and Considerable conditions (as defined by local forecasters).This is typical and has always been the topic of lively discussion and debate. The reality is that High indicates a pretty clear danger while Low is also pretty clear. There were a few incidents under a High rating but not a majority. There was one during conditions rated as Low. In between these when it is Moderate or Considerable it is never as clear and a greater degree of personal judgment is required.

Other graphs include fatalities and fatal incidents by state and by activity.

Other Stuff

This years fundraising auction will run from Dec 7th to Dec 15th. Our initial fax (and the only effort we have been able to make so far at obtaining items to auction) has resulted in two donations. I believe both may be first time contributors. We will have a custom snowboard graciously donated by Revolution Snowboards, and a "Best Sellers Kit" of Mountain House Freeze Dried meals from Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. arrived the other day.

We actually still have some stats scripts that attempt to measure the use of our website. There are figures for the day, the month, and the season. These were just rolled over so that last seasons are archived and this seasons are now tracked. An amazing amount of traffic on the net these days is automated - bots and spiders of all kinds indexing, searching, tracking, etc. Trying to filter this out and count something close to real users ceased to be worth the time it takes quite a while ago. There is a file with traffic to ignore but we gave up on updating it. Many sites claim huge volumes of traffic by ignoring the automated stuff entirely, either out of ignorance or out of a desire for bigger numbers to sell with. I stopped trusting any of these figures a long time ago. Nonetheless, sometimes some interesting or helpful information comes from these stats. If anyone is interested they are available here: http://www.avalanche-center.org/stats/. Back to 1995. (Not many sites can make that claim!)


As you can see, we have a lot of general work and maintenance to do this time of year. We are trying to update some content at the same time, such as the incidents blog summary and graphs. We are also trying to create some cash flow and provide our members and guests with great deals through events like the fall sale. Please pass the word along asap since this ends this weekend. We will aim for another update in a week or so.

Jim Frankenfield
Executive Director

Avalanche Center Info


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