Everything You Wanted To Know About Avalanches
How can accidents happen? An expert explains the basics.
Last month an avalanche on Mount Everest killed 13 Sherpas and left three missing.
Ever see snow slide off of a car windshield?
Avalanches need a few simple ingredients, and forecasters try to monitor them using any bit of data they can get.
The slab is the section of snow that's sliding, which breaks off at a weak layer.
All snow is layered, and the weak layer is less cohesive than the others.
Wind can also form cornices, or overhanging blocks of snow, usually on the tops of ridges. If they fall, they can also trigger an avalanche.
Most avalanches occur between 30 and 45 degrees.
So if you see one, you still have time to outrun it, right?
There are also sluffs, or loose snow avalanches, that start at a small point near the top of a slope and fan out as they go.
And the size of an avalanche doesn't necessarily matter, either.
But I go skiing all the time. Should I be worried?
When you're looking for someone who's buried, speed is crucial.
What happens if you get swept into one?
But if all goes well, you're found safe and sound.
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