Knowing how avoid and identify the signs of potential avalanches can save your life or help keep you from sustaining serious injuries. Avalanches often occur on wintry mountaintops where many outdoor activities also take place.
Areas where you love to snowmobile, ski, snowboard and hike, along with other mountain activities can become danger zones at any moment. No matter where the slope is located, there is a risk and there are indicators you can look for to help you identify whether an avalanche is possible where you happen to be.
Avalanches kill at least 150 people each year and 49% of those deaths are snowmobile related. At least 90% of all avalanches are actually caused by the victim or someone in the victim’s party. Areas that are weakened by rapid snowfall only need a bit of weight added to them to trigger a full-blown avalanche; hence the reason 90% of them are caused by people entering those areas.
Let’s take a look at how you can identify potentially dangerous areas to avoid causing and falling victim to an avalanche.
Previous Snow Slides
If the mountainside where you plan to be looks as though a large amount of snow has been recently displaced, it may be a good idea to reconsider holding your activity there. Recent snow slides are often an indicator that an area is generally avalanche-prone.
If there has been a heavy amount of rain or snowfall in the area within the last 24-36 hours, an avalanche may be more likely to occur. The additional snow or ice that may have been deposited by the recent storm may be unstable enough that any kind of interaction with the terrain could trigger an avalanche.
Rapid Temperature Increase
Rapidly increasing temperatures in a mountainous area may be a significant trigger for an avalanche. With the temperature increase will also come melting and shifting of the snow in the area, and while this may not cause an avalanche on its own, your activity on top of this snow could be enough to set and avalanche in motion.
Be sure to check weather information about the area to which you want to travel to avoid avalanche-prone conditions.