A Short Guide to Accessing NWAC On The Go
For anyone heading to the backcountry during the winter, the avalanche forecast is a crucial piece of information. It serves as the foundation of our decisions of where, when, and how to travel. Luckily for us, the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) provides our region with daily avalanche forecasts during the winter season, along with twice-a-day weather forecasts and several other useful resources. Although the website has seen significant improvements in the past several years, NWAC understood that a significant portion of its users access the forecast on mobile devices, often at the trailhead. To meet this need, NWAC compiled a committee including both volunteers and contractors and raised significant funds from the backcountry community to develop the new Avy app. Now that the app is available on all major app platforms, we thought we’d showcase some of the highlights and where to access all the information you need for your next tour.
The Avy app is currently set up to access both NWAC and the Sawtooth Avalanche Center in Idaho. NWAC hopes to expand access to other avalanche centers in subsequent years. The new app brings several benefits:
Consolidated forecast view with observations and weather specific to selected forecast zone
Avalanche forecasts saved for 24-hours for offline access
Weather data optimized for mobile viewing
Ability to submit observations directly through the app, even when offline
The home screen is likely a familiar sight to many of us: the map of all 10 avalanche forecast zones in the Cascades, Olympics, and Mt. Hood. After selecting your preferred zone, you are greeted with the most recent avalanche forecast, with tabs on the top for weather and observations. It’s important to note that within each tab, there are several drop-down sections to access the full forecast discussions and weather synopses.
Changing your forecast zone is easy with the drop-down menu at the very top of the page. The upside of this zone-specific orientation is that weather forecasts, weather stations, and observations are already filtered to the forecast zone you have selected, which reflects how most users engage with the forecast. From the bottom menu bar, you can go to the observations or weather data page to browse all observations or all weather data.
Make sure you click on the forecast discussion to read all the details of the forecast!
Another big upgrade of the app is the ability to submit observations in the field. On the observations tab, simply hit submit in the bottom right corner and fill out what you are seeing in the field. Even if you are out of service, the app will cache your observation until you reach reliable service! This feature will help backcountry users submit relevant information when they see it and it is fresh in their mind, allowing for more accurate and timely observations. The forecasters who write the daily avalanche forecasts rely on timely and relevant observations to round out their understanding of conditions.
Oh, and the app will automatically cache the forecast after you have viewed it! That means if you check the forecast when it comes out at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, the app will allow you to access that information until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. This allows you to check the forecast while in the field and compare what you’re seeing to the forecast. Future features we are excited about include push notifications when a forecast update or significant incoming weather event has occurred, and the ability to favorite the weather stations you use most frequently.
Below is a quick run-through identifying the major app functions:
The Avy app is available for download now, and full avalanche forecasting has begun! Projects like the Avy app are 100% funded by the backcountry community, so consider supporting NWAC as the season ramps up. Donate here.
Use the app and provide feedback to NWAC to help make it better!
Submit feedback via the button in the menu
Send an email to email@example.com
Share it with your friends, and don’t forget to rate the app!