Avalanche Hazard Warnings at Ski Resorts Are For Real

Avalanche Hazard Warnings at Ski Resorts Are For Real

The dream of almost every skier or snowboarder is to be whisked up a high mountains in a chair lift, gondola or helicopter and then to stand poised at the threshold of a steep slope with the anticipation of great ride on a cushion of untouched powder. It could also be the effect of the untouched snow bringing back visions of childrens fairy tales. However, this event could be the last ride of the dreamer’s life. Because each year many veteran skiers and snowboarders risk life and limb skiing on dangerous downhill and cross-country runs because of avalanches.

Ski areas around the world have personnel who study avalanches and they know avalanche conditions. This is in addition to government agencies that are tasked with avalanche watches and constantly test the snowy slopes. All the high bowls and ski runs are checked with relation to temperature, snow level of the packed base, fresh snow fall level, slope, etc. Computer-generated simulations also can track the patterns of avalanches in an area before they happen and this technology has saved countless lives.

Here are some of the major avalanche types:

1. Slab-Type Avalanches

The slab avalanche is the most dangerous. When the “old” snow – snow that has fallen weeks or months before – does not get a chance to get compacted with the base layer below a new, thick snowfall afterward adds more weight to the unstable layer below. So when the weight of a human – skier, or snowboarder – or a snowmobile is added the layer below lets go from the ones below and a large pan begins to come apart from the main piece. Because those involved are beyond the break when it happens escape is very difficult as they are part of the piece. Then the slab break ups as it slides and overtakes the hapless adventurers.

2. Sluff-Type Avalanches

Sluff-type avalanches are also called “loose snow avalanches. These are powdery areas of snow that break off when the vibration from thee motion of skiers, snowmobilers or snowboarders dislodges the pan. These are small avalanches that rarely kill but many people are injured if they get caught up in one.

3. Wet Avalanches

Melting spring snow in the spring produces small streams under the snow pans and saturates the snow layers as well. this weakens the layers and, as no two snow layers have the same properties, this moisture causes one layer to slide over another one.

Key things to remember for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers:

1. Watch the Slope: An avalanche can occur if the snow-laden slope is over 30 degrees.
2. Snow Pack ID: Know what the snow pack is before starting out over it. Check with the authorities and follow their advice.
3. Heed Warning Signs: Ski authorities put signs up for a reason.

You can have fun by not gambling with your life!

Kim Kinrade invites you to to his website and blog on the many wonders of Nova Scotia, Canada’s Atlantic Playground. http://www.traveltonovascotia.com There is so much to see and do in Nova Scotia within a small area that it has become an optimum destination for many travelers.

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