NWAC Staff

Forecast Staff

Kenny Kramer


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Kenny took the reins of NWAC at the start of 2013, following founding director Mark Moore's retirement.  Kenny grew up in San Diego pursuing the typical interests of that environment, namely surfing!  His interests expanded to aviation and while still in high school he obtained a Private Pilot license.  He completed his early meteorology course work at San Diego State University and decided to pursue that field as a career.  He graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences.  Shortly after graduating he was commissioned in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and soon found himself at Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy on Long Island, New York learning all that was needed to operate a large NOAA research ship.  Kenny served for nearly six years as a NOAA Corps officer with duties as a deck officer on two fisheries research vessels that operated in Alaskan and Hawaiian waters, as well as an assignment as a Marine Forecaster at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle.  Following his time in the NOAA Corps, Kenny moved his field office from the oceans to the mountains and since 1990 has served as an avalanche meteorologist with the Northwest Avalanche Center.

Garth Ferber

Avalanche Meteorologist


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Garth was born in 1959, raised in West Seattle, and graduated from high school in 1977.  In the late 1970's he had never heard of  avalanches, until his first experience with an avalanche in the spring of 1978, when he triggered a shallow avalanche on the south side of Granite Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass.  Garth's younger sister watched horrified as he began to be carried down the mountainside; luckily he was able to self arrest and did not think about avalanches again for a long time until he began back-country skiing in the late 1980's. Garth earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 1986 and 1990 respectively, and went to work for the Seattle National Weather Service in 1990. He has 20 years of  experience hiking, backcountry skiing, and climbing in the mountain ranges of western North America and the European Alps. Garth took his first avalanche class from Gary Brill in the mid 1980s and was hired by the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center in 1993.

Dennis D'Amico

Avalanche Meteorologist


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Dennis grew up in not-so-mountainous Long Island, NY, skiing in the Northeast with his family. After graduating from Cornell University in 2002 with a B.S. in Atmospheric Science, he immediately headed to higher ground at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Dennis first tried backcountry skiing in 2002-03 while working at Jay Peak Ski resort in Vermont, and his experience with Alpine Trekkers encouraged him to take up tele skiing! After moving to Ontario to take a job as a private meteoroloigst in 2003, he spent his free-time traveling to Utah to backcountry ski with friends and exploring the snow sciences. In 2006, he finally saw his opportunity to move West and he took a job with the National Weather Service in Seattle. Dennis worked with the NWS Seattle office for 6 years, learning about Pacific Northwest weather patterns. With the NWS, he had the opportunity to interact with NWAC on mountain weather and avalanche forecasts both in and outside of the office and was hired by NWAC in November 2012. Dennis has since switched back to Alpine Touring, but still enjoys a good knee bend once in awhile. 


Non-Profit Staff

Scott Schell

Executive Director

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Scott is the Executive Director of the non-profit arm of NWAC. From 2011-16, he worked as NWAC’s Program Director driving our innovative educational programs and overseeing the professional observers network. He is a certified AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide who has guided throughout the US, Alaska, Canada, and Europe. An avid ski mountaineer, Scott brings nearly 20 years of backcountry ski industry experience—as an avalanche instructor and instructor trainer. He is a co-author of North America’s primary single-source backcountry skiing handbook, Backcountry Skiing, Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering.


Professional Observer Team

Ian Nicholson

Central Cascades West

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The first thing you will quickly realize about Ian is his never-ending stoke to be out in the mountains, whether sliding on snow, hanging-out on a portaledge or anywhere deep in the backcountry. Ian; a self-proclaimed snow-geek, is deeply passionate about sharing backcountry education with the community having taught over 40 avalanche courses and is an AIARE Level 1 and Level 2 Course Leader.  Ian is also an internationally licensed IFMGA/UIAGM mountain guide, authored a local climbing guidebook entitled SuperTopo: Washington Pass Climbing, has worked on the snow-safety team for Tailgate Alaska: a World Freeride Festival, is a regular contributor for OutdoorGearLab and holds an AIARE Level III certificate. 

Dallas Glass

Central Cascades West


Dallas began his love for the mountains by climbing on steep southern sandstone in the hills surrounding his home in Alabama. After graduating from Clemson University with a B.S. in Forest Resource Management, he moved west to pursue a master’s degree in Hydrology and Soil Physics at the University of Nevada. Conveniently, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada were only minutes away. Whenever, he could get out of the lab, he’d head to the mountains for some skiing and climbing. After completing his master’s degree he began to split his time working in Alaska as a wilderness ecologist and at Mt Rose Ski Tahoe as the avalanche forecaster. After spending 5 years as the avalanche forecaster for Mt Rose and Nevada Hwy 431, Dallas moved to the Seattle area where he works year-round as a mountain guide, ski guide, and avalanche educator. Dallas also serves as the AVPRO Coordinator and as a member for the Education Committee for the American Avalanche Association.

Lee Lazzara



Talk about hitting the jackpot:  Lee made the move from suburban New Jersey to the good times and even better snow of Utah at age 16 and has called the mountains home ever since. Finding a life in the mountains has taken him through a variety of work—from groveling as a ski area dishwasher, to divining the secrets of shoveling snow and hot tub maintenance, and finally graduating to the glamorous world of ski patrolling and mountain guiding. He currently resides in Bellingham, Washington, where he has lived continuously in the same house for four years—a lifetime achievement which he credits to his girlfriend, Corry. Lee finished IFMGA guiding certification in 2013 and knows just enough French to get into trouble while guiding in the Alps. 

Jeff Ward

Central-North Cascades East


Jeff has been a Northwest skier for over 30 years. He is an IFMGA and AMGA certified mountain guide and co-owner of North Cascades Mountain Guides ( Jeff has worked in the Canadian heliskiing industry, as an off-piste and ski mountaineering guide in the European Alps, and ski touring and heliskiing guide in the Cascades. In addition to his work as a ski guide he also works for the American Mountain Guides Association as an instructor and examiner, teaching the next generation of ski guides the tricks of the trade. Jeff lives in Leavenworth with his wife Kristen and his four year old daughter Allison, who may love skiing even more than he does.

Tom Curtis

Central-South Cascades East


Tom's background varies as much as the snowpack. His first taste of the mountains was growing up as a military brat in Germany when his parents took he and his brother for a ski trip to the Austrian Alps. It became a yearly event until he moved back to the states and he as hooked. Tom learned to snowboard during high school in Vermont, and continued boarding in Colorado post graduation. He served in the US Air Force as a bio-environmental engineering technician in '97 and went to Webster University, MO for an audio engineering degree. Once his enlistment ended, was employed as a recording engineer for various recording studios and companies. Tom relocated to Washington in 2008 where he instructs AIARE avalanche courses with the American Alpine Institute. He has a great passion for accessing winter backcountry terrain via snowmobile, skis, and splitboard.

Matt Schonwald

Olympic Mountains

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Matt Schonwald began skiing when skis were skinny in New York at Hunter Mountain, 'The Snow Making Capital of the World’. A summer ski trip to Mt Hood inspired him years later to move from New York City to Washington State for college and he never looked back. After skiing on 5 continents, Matt founded of BC Adventure Guides to share his passion for skiing new places, which include guided ski trips to Antarctica, Europe, Asia, North & South America. He is a certified AMGA Ski-Mountaineering Guide and certified Avalanche Instructor with the American Avalanche Association. Dedicated to perfecting his craft, Matt completed his MBA in sustainable business from BGI to help preserve wild places. Matt now shares his passion for snow with his daughter between completing his ‘honey do list’ and enjoying the greatest touring on Earth at Snoqualmie Pass.


Former NWAC Forecasters

Mark Moore

Founding Director


Mark was director, mountain meteorologist and avalanche forecaster with the NWAC from its inception in 1975 thru 2012.  Mark helped start the Norwest Avalanche Center with colleagues Rich Marriott (now a television meteorologist in Seattle), Bud Reanier (a National Weather Service forecaster), and Dr. Ed LaChapelle in 1976. Mark also managed the development, installation and maintenance of a comprehensive network of remote mountain weather stations to support NWAC's weather and avalanche forecasting operation. His lifelong interest in snow and avalanches began as a professional ski patroller in California's Sierra Nevada in the early 1970's, where he migrated after a B.S. in aerospace engineering from UC San Diego and a short, yet interesting stint as a nuclear engineer.  Finding the field exciting, but discovering many unanswered questions about snowpack and avalanches and the weather that produced them, Mark returned to school where he received a Master's Degree in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. During the past 30+ years in the avalanche field, Mark has authored, co-authored and presented a variety of papers and scientific reports on weather, snowpack, avalanches, instrumentation and related topics. He was also an instructor for weather and avalanche schools from Alaska to Colorado, and is a consultant for snow, fire-weather, instrumentation and avalanche interests during the "off-season". He is now looking at the snowpack and weather through a new set of eyes, and trying to enjoy the beauty of the mountains as well as its danger.

Knox Williams

Avalanche Meteorologist ('05-06), Former CAIC Director


Knox worked with the U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Research Project in Fort Collins, CO from 1970-83 as a research scientist and lead forecaster with the USFS Colorado Avalanche Warning Program. In 1983, he helped to found the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and was its Director until retiring in 2005. He spent the winter of 2005-06 as a forecaster with NWAC. He is now fully retired and living in Buena Vista, CO, but still works occasionally as an educator and consultant. Knox is also on the NWAC Advisory Council.

Sue Ferguson

Avalanche Meteorologist ('86-'92)

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Sue Ann Ferguson, affectionately known at the NWAC as Dr. Sue or “Sue from the U”, lettered in skiing at the University of Oregon, received a BS in physics from the University of Massachusetts, and PhD. in Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.  Her working career included forecasting avalanches and fire weather in Alaska, a stint in Utah as Program Manager of the UAFC from 1984-86, and a very important time as avalanche meteorologist at the NWAC from 1986-1992.  Sue was most recently team leader of the USDA Forest Service, Atmosphere and Fire Interactions Research and Engineering (AirFire) team at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle. Sue's love of sports and the outdoors kept her active all of her life.  In addition to academic contributions in snow science, mountain weather, global climate change, and fire weather, she published instructional books on glaciers and avalanches, The Avalanche Review newspaper, and several satirical cartoons in various newspapers, as well as performing minor parts in a few plays.  Behind all of her accomplishments was a most wonderful, sharing and caring person, and all of those who knew her miss Sue greatly after her untimely death from cancer in December of 2005.

Rich Marriot

Avalanche Meteorologist ('76-'86)


Rich has long been interested in weather and avalanche science, receiving a B.S in physics and M.S. in meteorology from UCLA and from the University of Washington. While at the UW, Marriott worked summers as station manager for the Blue Glacier Research Project in the Olympic Mountains, carrying out research in glaciology, climatology, and meteorology.  This position also involved assisting in search and rescue and educational programs for Olympic National Park. Rich was instrumental in development of the Avalanche Center, was one of its co-founders as a graduate student under Dr. Ed LaChapelle, and served as co-director of the Center from its inception in 1976 through 1986.  After an early "retirement" from the NWAC, Rich has spent the last 20+ years in the media spotlight as as an outstanding weather forecaster for KING-TV in Seattle.  Fortunately he has maintained an interest and involvement in the avalanche community as secretary of the International Snow Science Workshop Steering Committee and as a board member of the Friends of the Avalanche Center.

Pam Hayes

Avalanche Meteorologist ('82-'86, Intermittent '87-'02)


Pam Hayes first worked at the avalanche center in 1980, helping with the transition from teletype machines to computers, and became a full time forecaster in '82. After a brief break in the mid-80's, she returned to forecasting and worked intermittently with the NWAC until 2002. Pam came to avalanche and mountain weather forecasting following a lifelong interest in the mountains and in science, along with an avid interest in sailing. During one of her intermittent “breaks” from forecasting, Pam and her family sailed a 26 ft cutter from Seattle to New Zealand via San Francisco, Hawaii, and the south Pacific. On this adventure she was called upon to put her small scale forecasting expertise to work by issuing marine forecasts for other sailors in the area via regular radio updates, and in the southern Hemisphere no less. In any case, after receiving a Masters degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in the mid-80's, Pam combined forecasting with research in developing meso-scale precipitation models.  Since leaving forecasting in 2002, Pam has maintained involvement with the Avalanche Center by helping implement a snow stability model, and through presentations at the biannual International Snow Science Workshop.

Bud Reanier

NWAC consultant (first few seasons in the mid-late 70s)

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After serving his country as a Captain and communications officer with the US Navy, Bud enjoyed a great career as a civilian with the National Weather Service where he retired as Deputy Meteorologist in Charge of the Seattle Forecast Office in 1975. Fortunately Bud had become a great mountain meteorologist during his stint with the NWS, and fortunately he happened to be available as a consultant for the fledgling NWAC as it opened its doors in December of 1975…under the overall research tutelage of UW Professor Emeritus and avalanche scientist Dr. Ed LaChapelle. 

With his exceptional background with the NWS, Bud smoothed the transition of newbie forecasters Rich Marriott and Mark Moore (both recent UW MS grads in Atmospheric Science) into the field of mountain weather and avalanche prediction and into the operational routine of the local forecast office (then housed in the Westlake Building on Lake Union). With an excellent grasp of all things meteorological and a great sense of humor, Bud guided the NWAC and Marriott and Moore through several amazing seasons of initiation. We thank you Bud.


Former Non-Profit Staff

Benj Wadsworth

Non-Profit Executive Director


Benj served as the Executive Director of the non-profit side of NWAC overseeing all aspects of the organization until 2016. Prior to becoming the ED, he served on the professional ski patrol at Crystal Mountain, as an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), as the director of the Outdoor Program at the Overlake School, and most recently as a program manager with the King County Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks. He holds an undergraduate degree in Geography from Middlebury College in Vermont and an MS in Natural Resource Management from the University of Washington. Benj is an avid backcountry skier and has been exploring the Cascades on skis for over twenty years.

Nick Rustigian

Program Coordinator


Nick 'Rusty' Rustigian was NWAC's Program Coordinator from 2012 to 2016. He was instrumental in our education, outreach, memberships, sponsorship and events, along with anything else Benj and Scott threw at him. Originally from New England, Nick relocated to Seattle in 2010 after a couple years chasing snow between Chile and the great state of Vermont. He's an avid skier, mountain biker, and enjoys good food and music.