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  1. “Loose snow” avalanches account for only a small percentage of deaths and property damage. “Slab” avalanches (the most lethal) are cohesive plates of snow sliding as a unit.
  2. Each year avalanches kill more than 150 people worldwide.
  3. In 90% of avalanche accidents, the victim or someone in the victim’s party causes the snow slide.
  4. The human body is 3 times denser than avalanche debris and will sink quickly. When the slide slows, clear air space to breathe, then punch your hand skyward. Once the avalanche stops, it settles like concrete.
  5. Unlike its portrayal in movies, noise does not trigger avalanches. Avalanches are caused by four factors: a steep slope, snow cover, a weak layer in the snow cover, and a trigger.

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  1. The vast majority of avalanches (90%) occur on slopes with angles between 30 and 45 degrees. Steeper slopes tend to continually slough snow, keeping a deep snowpack from building up. The snowpack on flatter slopes requires more force to move.
  2. Avalanche risk is at its greatest 24 hours following a snowfall of 12 inches or more.
  3. Avalanches can reach speeds of 80 mph within about 5 seconds.
  4. The deadliest avalanche in American history was due to a train wreck in 1910. Roughly 96 people died in the incident.
  5. If a victim can be rescued within 18 minutes, the survival rate is greater than 91%. The survival rate drops to 34% in burials between 19 and 35 minutes.
  6. After one hour, only 1 in 3 victims buried in an avalanche is found alive. The most common causes of death are suffocation, wounds, and hypothermia.

Sources

  • 1

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 2

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 3

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 4

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 5

    "Avalanches." Avalanches. http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/vlchs-eng.aspx#a1 (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 6

    "10 Things You Didn't Know about Avalanches." 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Avalanches. http://www.climbing.com/climber/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-avalanches/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 7

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 8

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 9

    "10 Things You Didn't Know about Avalanches." 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Avalanches. http://www.climbing.com/climber/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-avalanches/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 10

    "Avalanche Facts, Avalanche Information, Avalanche Videos, Avalanche Photos - National Geographic." National Geographic. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/ (accessed August 1, 2014).

  • 11

    "Avalanches." Avalanches. http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/vlchs-eng.aspx#a1 (accessed August 1, 2014).

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