Though many Americans think that an avalanche is not something that they need to worry about, the horrific nature and power of the snow-based event was shown in 2010 as a record 36 people were killed, according to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC).
A total of 17 snowmobilers, seven skiers, three snowboarders, five climbers and four workers were killed by avalanches, showing the danger for Americans who operate in a region that accumulates a significant amount of snow, the NWAC reported.
While the “avalanche season” generally runs from November through April, the number of people that were killed represented the highest level that had been reached in American history for 2010. Many of the fatalities resulted from individuals being swept down a mountain into a rock or tree or over a cliff, the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group reported.
According to the NWAC, there are several ways that Americans can avoid becoming the latest victim of these snowy killers. If individuals are going skiing or hiking they should have an avalanche forecast handy, along with the appropriate tools, planned escape routes and emergency contact strategies.
Signs that an avalanche may occur include the presence of a significant amount of new snow, “whumping sounds” coming from the terrain and a sudden temperature rise following precipitation, according to the organization.