Avalanches claim six victims in western US
Note: The photographs coming in on this story are incredible. Have a look at the slideshow!
Having grown up in the Rocky Mountains, I experienced a few avalanches as a kid and teenager. Sometimes you could hear the boom--which sounded like a bomb going off--as a slope gave way. More than once people lost their lives in the back country (or off-piste, as it is also called) above my hometown, and in high school avalanche training was integrated into our gym classes. Ski days were also declared, since there were certain "dump" days when our school's administration knew a large segment of the population wasn't going to be coming to class because it had snowed.
The conditions which make for great skiing are, unfortunately, the same which make for avalanches--a heavy snow dump of light powder makes for a great run, but also makes for a much higher avalanche risk.
This winter seems to be a higher avalanche risk season than most. I would wave the climate change flag, but the sliding snow seems to be doing that for me:
Like this past week in Colorado, where mtippett points out that being stuck on a mountain pass is almost as fun as being stuck on a JetBlue flight...
Or earlier this winter, when laurascott observed cars being buried and swept away as the result of an avalanche on Berthoud Pass...
Or this report from this past weekend, which shows that avalanches continue to devastate the north- and mid-west of US and Canada:
Six people have been killed by avalanches in the western United States.
The bodies of two snowmobilers were found in Montana's Big Belt Mountains on Sunday morning.
One person survived the avalanche there but had to travel around 20 miles to be picked up.
He ended up walking after his snowmobile became stuck.
He used his mobile phone to call for help.
In Utah, two snowmobilers, including a 16-year-old, died in separate avalanches on Saturday.
On Sunday, a 17-year-old was killed by a slide while skiing off piste near a resort.