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'Spatial variability' - the hot topic in avalanche science

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I think fellow snowHead davidof mentioned this phrase recently. It means the avalanche danger that arises from apparently uniform snow characteristics actually disguising variations in stability across a slope.

'Spatial variability' comes up in this interesting report from the recent Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop, by Summit Daily News. As they say:

"... skiers and snowboarders are advised to carefully observe all the clues, including slight irregularities in a slope, or rock outcrops.

"Spend lots of time in the snow, looking, probing," Birkeland* said, recommending targeted sampling to search for instabilities. Probing the snow with ski poles every few feet and heeding classic warning signs like cracks shooting out ahead of your skis, or the sound of collapsing, or "whoomping" snow can also offer clues about changing conditions within the space of a few feet, he said.

*Karl Birkeland, a top US Forest Service avalanche researcher based in Montana.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person

...heeding classic warning signs like cracks shooting out ahead of your skis, or the sound of collapsing, or "whoomping" snow...

that sounds like leaving it just a little bit too late!
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