Susan Hale & Ann Mellick, CAIC Avalanche Forecasters
Story by Kathryn R. Burke
Susan Hale and Ann Mellick are avalanche forecasters for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). They work on the Highway 550 and 145 corridors in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep the highways safe for winter travelers. Both have been employees of the CAIC since 2006, with previous backgrounds in snow and avalanche work in the Colorado Rockies.
Susan. A love for the mountains and back-country adventure lured Susan to the Colorado Rockies 28 years ago. Innumerable ski mountaineering escapades and a few encounters with avalanches left her with both respect and curiosity for avalanche phenomena. This interest was piqued during her ten years with the Snowmass Ski Patrol’s Snow Safety Team where she also oversaw the Avalanche Rescue Dog program. In 2004 an irresistible opportunity came along to work as an intern forecaster for the San Juan CAIC office. Here she learned the intricacies of local highway forecasting. Two years later, Susan was on board as a full time forecaster in the Silverton CAIC office.
Ann. Has spent much of her avalanche career in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. She began under the wing of a longtime forecaster in the late 90’s and worked for a decade as an avalanche educator and mountain guide. She learned the intricacies of highway forecasting as an intern for the CAIC’s Silverton office and honed her weather forecasting and multi-tasking skills while working as a forecaster in the Boulder office. Ann then took over as the Northern San Juan backcountry forecaster before turning her focus back to highway forecasting. She now devotes her energy to keeping the Highway 550 and 145 corridors safe in the wintertime.
While they enjoy the challenge of their winter work, Susan and Ann always look forward to the summer months, when they can enjoy the simplicity of flip flops and relative serenity of gardening.
This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke.