The human coccyx is a vestige of the tail in our primate ancestors. Goose bumps are a vestigial reflex; raising body hair helped our ancestors look larger to predators. Wisdom teeth, the appendix, and the muscles of the ear also performed important functions generations ago. All lost their original function and importance as they became less advantageous to human survival. Now the coccyx is just something that really, really hurts after you fall hard on a heel-side snowboard turn. After a few more generations of snowboarders, maybe it’ll disappear altogether.
Recorded avalanche advisories on phone answering machines are also vestigial. When the forerunner of the CAIC started issuing avalanche advisories 42 years ago, “hotlines” were a cutting-edge tool for communicating current conditions. But their use plummeted as people adopted the internet, and the decline continued as people began relying on mobile technology. The CAIC has maintained six hotlines in recent seasons, despite little use.
The problem with vestigial structures and traits is that they still require energy. For the CAIC, recording the advisories is another task in an increasingly busy morning workflow, one with little pay off because so few people use them. So we’ve decided to pull those vestigial wisdom teeth. We will no longer record avalanche advisories for local phone numbers. Instead, forecasters will record 60-second summaries of forecast snow and weather conditions that will be available as mp3 files on Soundcloud.
Here’s how you can easily access the daily radio recordings:
- Go to our to the Radio Recordings page on our website
- Click on any of the recordings to listen
- You can download the recordings by clicking on “DOWNLOAD CAIC RECORDINGS FROM SOUNDCLOUD”
or go directly to SoundCloud
The CAIC forecasters will make three recordings each day:
- Northern Mountains: the Vail and Summit County, Front Range and Steamboat and Flat Tops zones
- Central Mountains: Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison and Grand Mesa zones
- Southern Mountains: North and South San Juan Mountains, and Sangre de Cristo zones
Each recording will include overall danger ratings, special products like Watches and Warnings, and descriptions of avalanche problems, notable events, and general weather events. The recordings are available for local radio stations to broadcast at their own schedule.
We recognize that a few people still use the telephone recordings, either out of long habit, familiarity, or lack of an internet connection. We understand that this news might be upsetting. We hope you can appreciate the need to balance the cost of efforts we undertake in the busy morning work crunch with the benefits of how many people we reach. If you liked hearing the advisory over the phone, try the new SoundCloud files. If you can’t access the recordings via the internet, urge your local radio station to broadcast the recordings each day. Either way, give us your feedback so we can keep evolving.