The Sawtooth Avalanche Center announced Tuesday that it has nearly doubled its forecast area thanks to a grant from Idaho’s Off-Road Motor Vehicle Fund.

Avalanche forecasts will now cover 2 million acres, up from 1.15 million acres last year. This includes additional terrain on the Sawtooth, Boise and Salmon-Challis national forests near Banner Summit, Smiley Creek, Stanley and Atlanta.

According to a Tuesday press release, the center has also upgraded its website to make it easier for travelers to submit their own backcountry photos and report avalanche sightings. (Telltale signs of impending avalanche, like shooting cracks or “whumpfing” sounds from collapsing snowpack, can also be reported.)

“Users will see a clean, modern look, better viewing on mobile devices … and other improvements,” the release stated. “If you’re out sliding and riding in the hills, please let us know what you’re seeing, even if you don’t trigger any avalanches.”

Daily backcountry avalanche forecasts will be available at every morning at 7:30 a.m., starting when the snowpack is deemed deep enough for skiing and snowmobiling. Forecasts will also be posted on the Sawtooth National Forest’s Facebook page.

For Wood River Valley residents who would like to learn more about avalanche safety, the Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center is offering an Introduction to Avalanches course on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Sun Valley Community School theater ($10 suggested donation) and a follow-up field session ($40 suggested donation) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Galena Summit.

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