Avalanche

An avalanche (also called a snowslide or snowslip) is a rapid flow of snow down a slope, that results from a mechanical failure in the snowpack when the forces on the snow exceed it strength. After the initiation avalanches usually accelerate rapidly and grow in size as they entrain more snow. If the avalanche moves fast enough some of the snow may mix with the air forming a powder snow avalanche, which is a type of gravity current.

Loading on the snowpack maybe purely due to gravity, in which case failure may result either from weakening in the snowpack or increased load due to precipitation. Avalanches that occur in this way are known as spontaneous avalanches. Avalanches can also be triggered by other loads such as skiers, snowmobilers, animals or explosives. Seismic activity may also cause failure in the snowpack and avalanches.

Although primarly composed of flowing snow and air, large avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other material on the slope, and are distinct from mudslides, rock slides, and serac collapses on an icefall. Avalanches are not rare or random events and are endemic to any mountain range that accumulates a standing snowpack. Avalanches are most common during winter or spring but glacier movements may cause ice and snow avalanches at any time of year. In mountainous terrain, avalanches are among the most serious objective hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry enormous masses of snow at high speeds.

There is no universally accepted classification of avalanches --- different classifications are useful for different purposes. Avalanches can be described by their size, their destructive potential, their initiation mechanism, their composition and their dynamics.

Read more about Avalanche:  Formation and Classification, Terrain, Snowpack, Weather, Dynamics, Notable Avalanches, European Avalanche Risk Table, European Avalanche Size Table, North American Avalanche Danger Scale, Canadian Classification For Avalanche Size, United States Classification For Avalanche Size

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Avalanche Rescue - Companion Rescue
... Witnesses to an avalanche that engulfs people are frequently limited to those in the party involved in the avalanche ... In fact, anyone planning to enter an avalanche area should discuss this step as part of their preparation ... Once the avalanche has stopped and the danger of secondary slides has passed, witnesses should mark these points with objects for reference ...
List Of Colorado Avalanche Records
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Snowcat Skiing - Safety
... of snowcat skiing operators is the danger of avalanches ... When weather is inclement or avalanche conditions are elevated, one may end up skiing safer, gentler or heavily treed slopes ... Most tours will include in the price the use of skis, avalanche transceivers, and will provide training on the use of them and other avalanche rescue equipment ...
Sneaux - Damage
... An avalanche can occur upon a sudden thermal or mechanical impact upon snow that has accumulated on a mountain, which causes the snow to rush downhill en masse ... Preceding an avalanche is a phenomenon known as an avalanche wind caused by the approaching avalanche itself, which adds to its destructive potential ...

Famous quotes containing the word avalanche:

    The Humanity of men and women is inversely proportional to their Numbers. A Crowd is no more human than an Avalanche or a Whirlwind. A rabble of men and women stands lower in the scale of moral and intellectual being than a herd of Swine or of Jackals.
    Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)

    The Humanity of men and women is inversely proportional to their Numbers. A Crowd is no more human than an Avalanche or a Whirlwind. A rabble of men and women stands lower in the scale of moral and intellectual being than a herd of Swine or of Jackals.
    Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)