Mountain Weather Workshop

We offer this course every other year. This course will be offered in 2020. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and the Silverton Avalanche School are offering a three day workshop on Mountain Weather. Morning sessions will provide a basic understanding of meteorological principles applied to weather in mountainous areas. Afternoon sessions will focus on using publicly available weather information to create a local forecast. Participants will interact with experienced weather forecasters and work in small groups to generate and present their own forecasts. The workshop is designed for avalanche practitioners and avid recreationalists. Anyone interested in mountain weather phenomena is welcome and no previous meteorological education is required. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptop computer with wireless capability for the small group exercises. This is considered a fundamental course for people pursuing avalanche forecasting or working in an avalanche operation.

This course is intended for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of weather processes and the products available for forecasting. Ski patrol, mountain guides, avalanche forecasters, natural resource managers, avid recreationalists and mountain pilots would all benefit from this course. The course will be held at Kendall Mountain Recreation Center in Silverton. 

Workshop Summary A commonly practiced weather forecast strategy is to take a systematic approach to organizing forecast information by spatial scale. The approach starts by analyzing large-scale hemispheric information and then working downscale to high-resolution information. The workshop schedule reflects this strategy with a focus on big picture weather basics and phenomena on day one, followed by regional-scale weather on day two, and then mountain-scale weather on day three. Morning sessions will provide an understanding of meteorological systems at these particular scales. Afternoon sessions will apply this understanding to prediction techniques typically used by professional weather forecasters. Participants will gain practical skills through small group forecast preparation exercises at the end of each day.

Course Goals:

  •  Provide a basic understanding of meteorology
  • Apply that understanding to mountain weather
  • Learn mountain weather forecasting techniques

Specifically, the Mountain Weather curriculum addresses:

  • A general approach to weather forecasting
  • Basic forecasting strategies and processes
  • Meteorology basics
  • Observational meteorology components
  • Introduction to weather computer models
  • Hemispheric to regional to mountain scale weather processes
  • Precipitation mechanics
  • Interpretation of weather products

Upon completion of the course, students will have had the opportunity to:

  • Learn and utilize a framework and checklist for mountain scale weather forecasting
  •  Access and interpret available weather resources and models in forecasting exercises
  • Develop a list of resources and forecasting approach to a specific area(s) of interest



Venue: Kendall Mountain Recreation Center  •  Silverton, CO

Cost: $400

Students receive a mountain weather workbook as a part of the course. We highly recommend bringing a laptop with wireless networking capability.

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Dr. John Snook

Dr. John Snook

Lead Mountain Weather and Avalanche Forecaster, CAIC – Boulder

John has a long history in forecasting and technology transfer. He received his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University and spent fourteen years working at NOAA’s Forecast Systems Laboratory. He has also worked as a consultant, developing weather forecast systems and mesoscale atmospheric models for several private and government groups. John is an avid backcountry skier and has been on the volunteer ski patrol at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area since 1985.