Avalanches By: Sarah Cook

Avalanches are caused by 4 factors: a slope, snow cover, a weak layer, and a trigger. Many times the trigger is caused by weather (wind, snow, rain or sun) which pushes it to its breaking point. It may also be triggered by skiers or snowmobiles.

Avalanches start with a trigger that dislodges accumulated snow that then falls down the mountain. An avalanche picks up more snow as it rushes downhill. Avalanches can weigh as much as a million tons and travel faster than 80 km/h.
In the mountains of the western United States, there are about 100,000 avalanches each year. Annually, avalanches kill approximately 150 people worldwide.
Did you know that only one in three people buried in an avalanche are found alive after one hour? The most common causes of death in an avalanche are suffocation, wounds and hypothermia. Also, even though it is a popular myth, loud noises do not usually cause avalanches. It is the pressure of something/someone that is making the noise that causes them.

Credits:

Created with images by Jonas B - "The Alps" • Hans - "loose snow avalanches avalanche tear off tabs" • Unsplash - "mountain snow winter"

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