This winter marks the third year of Grand Teton National Park’s growing partnership with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center (BTAC). With funding from Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the park collaborates with BTAC to expand the resources available to backcountry skiers and riders—providing more information to help users make educated decisions.
Lisa Van Sciver is Grand Teton’s meteorological technician, also known as snow ranger. She collaborates with BTAC daily throughout the winter season, adding park-specific snowpack observations and insights to the raw data collected by Grand Teton’s snow and wind sensors. Prior to this interagency partnership, there was not any information collected from the park that was formally included in BTAC’s forecasting.
“My position was created because, over the last decade or so, there has been a noticeable increase in winter recreation in the park,” Grand Teton National Park Meteorological Technician Lisa Van Sciver said. “Our goal is to provide skiers and riders with important details about the snowpack and avalanche activity before they make terrain selections in Grand Teton.”
“I have a lot of great days in the park, skiing with rangers and other forecasters—field work is one of my favorite things about the job,” Lisa said. “But it isn’t always days full of powder skiing. I get up at 4 am and have to evaluate data and write forecasts before the sun is up.”
Lisa has helped improve the accuracy of information available on BTAC’s website. In working with other ski professionals and collecting weather data, Lisa writes a weekly Grand Teton National Park discussion. This is the first time BTAC has offered a park-specific product, which captures the week’s avalanche related events, weather conditions, and the snowpack structure in Grand Teton. The discussion provides backcountry users with the most up-to-date information on what is happening in the park and is available here on BTAC’s website.
This winter, Lisa plans to advance the program by incorporating an intern who is studying snow science at Colorado Mountain College. He will assist Lisa with field observations, weather station maintenance, and media collection.
As the interagency partnership continues to grow, BTAC is better supported in their operations. BTAC only employs three forecasters. With the addition of the park snow ranger, Grand Teton is providing one quarter of the center’s winter seasonal staff. The Foundation is pleased to support this effort and continue advancing the program to support avalanche awareness and backcountry safety in Grand Teton National Park.