1. What can trigger an avalanche?

    • Answer

      Heavy snowfall, heavy winds, rapid changes in temperature, and human weight can all trigger an avalanche.

  2. What is the avalanche "danger zone"?

    • Answer

      The "danger zone" is when a slope is between 30° and 45° and more prone to avalanches.

  3. How are people working to prevent avalanches from harming others?

    • Answer

      People are monitoring slopes using ski patrols, triggering small avalanches with canons to prevent snow buildup and larger avalanches, and training search and rescue teams.

  4. Why do you think skiing can trigger an avalanche, but a person yelling would not?

    • Answer

      Avalanches are caused by sudden changes in pressure and temperature. The weight of a skier changes the amount of pressure on the snow, but the skier yelling does not.

  • Approximately 90% of avalanche incidents are triggered by a victim or someone with the victim.
  • Avalanches can reach speeds of approximately 129 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) within five seconds.
  • Avalanches are most common during and in the 24 hours after a storm dumps 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) or more of snow.
  • Although many people believe that avalanches occur without warning, there are many precursors. Avalanches actually begin several hours or days before the snowfall, because previous snowfalls may have already weakend the layers below.
  • If you are caught in an avalanche, it's best to try to "swim" to the surface.
  • If dug out within 15 minutes, about 93% of avalanche victims survive.

large mass of snow and other material suddenly and quickly tumbling down a mountain.

slab avalanche

dangerous slide of snow that falls as a large, flat whole (slab).


slant, either upward or downward, from a straight or flat path.

sluff avalanche

small slide of loose snow.