Backcountry Essentials: How Wind Loading Works

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Wind loading on Mt. Washington, NH.
Wind loading on Mt. Washington, NH.

Powder Magazine just had Sean Zimmerman-Wall, a Snowbird, UT ski patroller write up a great piece on how wind loading work and what to watch out for.  Strong winds create some of the most dangerous objects in the mountains:  wind slabs.  Wind slabs cause avalanches and avalanche are to be avoided at all costs.

Cornice
Cornice

Backcountry Essentials: Wind Loading

by Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Sean Zimmerman-Wall is a full-time ski patrolman at Snowbird, an avalanche educator, and an Andean mountain guide. Check in on Tuesdays for resources and education that will help you have a safe and good season exploring terrain beyond the boundary line.

With a storm comes wind. And with wind come complications for backcountry skiers. Windslab requires that we exercise extreme caution. Wind direction, speed, and duration are important in determining where windslab will be found and how dangerous the resulting avalanche conditions will be.

Wind direction: The prevailing wind direction in the Western U.S. and Canada is from the west. Sure wind will blow from other directions, but the western wind is a component in all storms tracking through the continent. Pay attention to which way the wind blows and you can determine where the windslab problem will be most pronounced.

Read the full article here:

Backcountry Essentials: Wind Loading


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