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Sawtooth Avalanche Center Wants To Give Snow Safety Talks In Spanish

Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Last year, avalanches hit 11 structures in the Wood River Valley, rolling accross roads and wiping some houses out completely. The workers tasked with cleaning these messes up, along with snow from typical storms, sometimes don’t speak English.

Now the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, which provides daily forecasts and regular educational programming, is trying to expand its Spanish-language information.

Ethan Davis, a forecaster for the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, says everyone — not just extreme winter sports enthusiasts — should know about avalanche safety.

“Anytime that you’re living in a mountain town, you need to understand what avalanches are, where they occur, and how to reduce your risk to an avalanche," Davis said.

Removing snow from roofs and streets can put service workers in harm’s way, whether they are working in dangerous zones or are at risk of triggering slides off structures.

“People are contracted out to clear snow from high-risk avalanche areas, so they also need to be aware of the risk for that day," said Luis Alberto Lecanda, a cross country ski athlete training in Sun Valley. He’s bilingual and is helping the avalanche center deliver safety protocol in Spanish.

Last week, the first Spanish avalanche talk was cancelled due to low attendance, and the group is working on improving outreach. On Tuesday, Lecanda will give a presentation to families of ski school students at Rotarun Ski Area in Hailey. Two-thirds of the students in the Rota-ripper afterschool ski program, put on by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, are Hispanic. Lecanda said the talk will begin with how to find the daily avalanche forecast and will touch upon basic snow safety principles.


​Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen


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