An avalanche (also called a snowslide) is an event that occurs when a cohesive slab of snow lying upon a weaker layer of snow fractures and slides down a steep slope. Avalanches are typically triggered in a starting zone from a mechanical failure in the snowpack (slab avalanche) when the forces of the snow exceed its strength but sometimes only with gradual widening (loose snow avalanche). After initiation, avalanches usually accelerate rapidly and grow in mass and volume as they entrain more snow. If the avalanche moves fast enough, some of the snow may mix with the air forming a powder snow avalanche, which is a type of gravity current.
The load on the snowpack may be only due to gravity, in which case failure may result either from weakening in the snowpack or increased load due to precipitation. Avalanches initiated by this process are known as spontaneous avalanches. Avalanches can also be triggered by other loading conditions such as human or biologically related activities. Seismic activity may also trigger the failure in the snowpack and avalanches.
Although primarily composed of flowing snow and air, large avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other surficial material. However, they are distinct from slushflows which have higher water content and more laminar flow, mudslides which have greater fluidity, rock slides which are often ice free, and serac collapses during an icefall. Avalanches are not rare or random events and are endemic to any mountain range that accumulates a standing snowpack. Avalanches are most common during winter or spring but glacier movements may cause ice and snow avalanches at any time of year. In mountainous terrain, avalanches are among the most serious objective natural hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry enormous masses of snow at high speeds.
There is no universally accepted classification system for different forms of avalanches. Avalanches can be described by their size, their destructive potential, their initiation mechanism, their composition and their dynamics.
Most avalanches occur spontaneously during storms under increased load due to snowfall. The second largest cause of natural avalanches is metamorphic changes in the snowpack such as melting due to solar radiation. Other natural causes include rain, earthquakes, rockfall and icefall. Artificial triggers of avalanches include skiers, snowmobiles, and controlled explosive work. Contrary to popular belief, avalanches are not triggered by loud sound; the pressure from sound is orders of magnitude too small to trigger an avalanche.
Avalanche initiation can start at a point with only a small amount of snow moving initially; this is typical of wet snow avalanches or avalanches in dry unconsolidated snow. However, if the snow has sintered into a stiff slab overlying a weak layer then fractures can propagate very rapidly, so that a large volume of snow, that may be thousands of cubic meters, can start moving almost simultaneously.
A snowpack will fail when the load exceeds the strength. The load is straightforward; it is the weight of the snow. However, the strength of the snowpack is much more difficult to determine and is extremely heterogeneous. It varies in detail with properties of the snow grains, size, density, morphology, temperature, water content; and the properties of the bonds between the grains.  These properties may all metamorphose in time according to the local humidity, water vapour flux, temperature and heat flux. The top of the snowpack is also extensively influenced by incoming radiation and the local air flow. One of the aims of avalanche research is to develop and validate computer models that can describe the evolution of the seasonal snowpack over time. A complicating factor is the complex interaction of terrain and weather, which causes significant spatial and temporal variability of the depths, crystal forms, and layering of the seasonal snowpack.
Slab avalanches form frequently in snow that has been deposited, or redeposited by wind. They have the characteristic appearance of a block (slab) of snow cut out from its surroundings by fractures. Elements of slab avalanches include the following: a crown fracture at the top of the start zone, flank fractures on the sides of the start zones, and a fracture at the bottom called the stauchwall. The crown and flank fractures are vertical walls in the snow delineating the snow that was entrained in the avalanche from the snow that remained on the slope. Slabs can vary in thickness from a few centimetres to three metres. Slab avalanches account for around 90% of avalanche-related fatalities in backcountry users.
The largest avalanches form turbulent suspension currents known as powder snow avalanches or mixed avalanches. These consist of a powder cloud, which overlies a dense avalanche. They can form from any type of snow or initiation mechanism, but usually occur with fresh dry powder. They can exceed speeds of 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph), and masses of 10000000 tonnes; their flows can travel long distances along flat valley bottoms and even uphill for short distances.
In contrast to powder snow avalanches, wet snow avalanches are a low velocity suspension of snow and water, with the flow confined to the track surface (McClung, first edition 1999, page 108). The low speed of travel is due to the friction between the sliding surface of the track and the water saturated flow. Despite the low speed of travel (~10–40 km/h), wet snow avalanches are capable of generating powerful destructive forces, due to the large mass and density. The body of the flow of a wet snow avalanche can plough through soft snow, and can scour boulders, earth, trees, and other vegetation; leaving exposed and often scored ground in the avalanche track. Wet snow avalanches can be initiated from either loose snow releases, or slab releases, and only occur in snow packs that are water saturated and isothermally equilibrated to the melting point of water. The isothermal characteristic of wet snow avalanches has led to the secondary term of isothermal slides found in the literature (for example in Daffern, 1999, page 93). At temperate latitudes wet snow avalanches are frequently associated with climatic avalanche cycles at the end of the winter season, when there is significant daytime warming.
As an avalanche moves down a slope it follows a certain pathway that is dependent on the slope's degree of steepness and the volume of snow/ice involved in the mass movement. The origin of an avalanche is called the Starting Point and typically occurs on a 30–45 degree slope. The body of the pathway is called the Track of the avalanche and usually occurs on a 20–30 degree slope. When the avalanche loses its momentum and eventually stops it reaches the Runout Zone. This usually occurs when the slope has reached a steepness that is less than 20 degrees. These degrees are not consistently true due to the fact that each avalanche is unique depending on the stability of the snowpack that it was derived from as well as the environmental or human influences that triggered the mass movement.
People caught in avalanches can die from suffocation, trauma, or hypothermia. On average, 28 people die in avalanches every winter in the United States.
An ice avalanche occurs when a large piece of ice, such as from a serac or calving glacier, falls onto ice (such as the Khumbu Icefall), triggering a movement of broken ice chunks. The resulting movement is more analogous to a rockfall or a landslide than a snow avalanche. They are typically very difficult to predict and almost impossible to mitigate.
Doug Fesler and Jill Fredston developed a conceptual model of the three primary elements of avalanches: terrain, weather, and snowpack. Terrain describes the places where avalanches occur, weather describes the meteorological conditions that create the snowpack, and snowpack describes the structural characteristics of snow that make avalanche formation possible.
Avalanche formation requires a slope shallow enough for snow to accumulate but steep enough for the snow to accelerate once set in motion by the combination of mechanical failure (of the snowpack) and gravity. The angle of the slope that can hold snow, called the angle of repose, depends on a variety of factors such as crystal form and moisture content. Some forms of drier and colder snow will only stick to shallower slopes, while wet and warm snow can bond to very steep surfaces. In particular, in coastal mountains, such as the Cordillera del Paine region of Patagonia, deep snowpacks collect on vertical and even overhanging rock faces. The slope angle that can allow moving snow to accelerate depends on a variety of factors such as the snow's shear strength (which is itself dependent upon crystal form) and the configuration of layers and inter-layer interfaces.
The snowpack on slopes with sunny exposures is strongly influenced by sunshine. Diurnal cycles of thawing and refreezing can stabilize the snowpack by promoting settlement. Strong freeze-thaw cycles result in the formation of surface crusts during the night and of unstable surface snow during the day. Slopes in the lee of a ridge or of another wind obstacle accumulate more snow and are more likely to include pockets of deep snow, wind slabs, and cornices, all of which, when disturbed, may result in avalanche formation. Conversely, the snowpack on a windward slope is often much shallower than on a lee slope.
Avalanches and avalanche paths share common elements: a start zone where the avalanche originates, a track along which the avalanche flows, and a runout zone where the avalanche comes to rest. The debris deposit is the accumulated mass of the avalanched snow once it has come to rest in the runout zone. For the image at left, many small avalanches form in this avalanche path every year, but most of these avalanches do not run the full vertical or horizontal length of the path. The frequency with which avalanches form in a given area is known as the return period.
The start zone of an avalanche must be steep enough to allow snow to accelerate once set in motion, additionally convex slopes are less stable than concave slopes, because of the disparity between the tensile strength of snow layers and their compressive strength. The composition and structure of the ground surface beneath the snowpack influences the stability of the snowpack, either being a source of strength or weakness. Avalanches are unlikely to form in very thick forests, but boulders and sparsely distributed vegetation can create weak areas deep within the snowpack through the formation of strong temperature gradients. Full-depth avalanches (avalanches that sweep a slope virtually clean of snow cover) are more common on slopes with smooth ground, such as grass or rock slabs.
Generally speaking, avalanches follow drainages down-slope, frequently sharing drainage features with summertime watersheds. At and below tree line, avalanche paths through drainages are well defined by vegetation boundaries called trim lines, which occur where avalanches have removed trees and prevented regrowth of large vegetation. Engineered drainages, such as the avalanche dam on Mount Stephen in Kicking Horse Pass, have been constructed to protect people and property by redirecting the flow of avalanches. Deep debris deposits from avalanches will collect in catchments at the terminus of a run out, such as gullies and river beds.
Slopes flatter than 25 degrees or steeper than 60 degrees typically have a lower incidence of avalanches. Human-triggered avalanches have the greatest incidence when the snow's angle of repose is between 35 and 45 degrees; the critical angle, the angle at which human-triggered avalanches are most frequent, is 38 degrees. When the incidence of human triggered avalanches is normalized by the rates of recreational use, however, hazard increases uniformly with slope angle, and no significant difference in hazard for a given exposure direction can be found. The rule of thumb is: A slope that is flat enough to hold snow but steep enough to ski has the potential to generate an avalanche, regardless of the angle.
The snowpack is composed of ground-parallel layers that accumulate over the winter. Each layer contains ice grains that are representative of the distinct meteorological conditions during which the snow formed and was deposited. Once deposited, a snow layer continues to evolve under the influence of the meteorological conditions that prevail after deposition.
For an avalanche to occur, it is necessary that a snowpack have a weak layer (or instability) below a slab of cohesive snow. In practice the formal mechanical and structural factors related to snowpack instability are not directly observable outside of laboratories, thus the more easily observed properties of the snow layers (e.g. penetration resistance, grain size, grain type, temperature) are used as index measurements of the mechanical properties of the snow (e.g. tensile strength, friction coefficients, shear strength, and ductile strength). This results in two principal sources of uncertainty in determining snowpack stability based on snow structure: First, both the factors influencing snow stability and the specific characteristics of the snowpack vary widely within small areas and time scales, resulting in significant difficulty extrapolating point observations of snow layers across different scales of space and time. Second, the relationship between readily observable snowpack characteristics and the snowpack's critical mechanical properties has not been completely developed.
While the deterministic relationship between snowpack characteristics and snowpack stability is still a matter of ongoing scientific study, there is a growing empirical understanding of the snow composition and deposition characteristics that influence the likelihood of an avalanche. Observation and experience has shown that newly fallen snow requires time to bond with the snow layers beneath it, especially if the new snow falls during very cold and dry conditions. If ambient air temperatures are cold enough, shallow snow above or around boulders, plants, and other discontinuities in the slope, weakens from rapid crystal growth that occurs in the presence of a critical temperature gradient. Large, angular snow crystals are indicators of weak snow, because such crystals have fewer bonds per unit volume than small, rounded crystals that pack tightly together. Consolidated snow is less likely to slough than loose powdery layers or wet isothermal snow; however, consolidated snow is a necessary condition for the occurrence of slab avalanches, and persistent instabilities within the snowpack can hide below well-consolidated surface layers. Uncertainty associated with the empirical understanding of the factors influencing snow stability leads most professional avalanche workers to recommend conservative use of avalanche terrain relative to current snowpack instability.
Avalanches can only occur in a standing snowpack. Typically winter seasons at high latitudes, high altitudes, or both have weather that is sufficiently unsettled and cold enough for precipitated snow to accumulate into a seasonal snowpack. Continentality, through its potentiating influence on the meteorological extremes experienced by snowpacks, is an important factor in the evolution of instabilities, and consequential occurrence of avalanches. Conversely, proximity to coastal environments moderates the meteorological extremes experienced by snowpacks, and results in a faster stabilization of the snowpack after storm cycles. The evolution of the snowpack is critically sensitive to small variations within the narrow range of meteorological conditions that allow for the accumulation of snow into a snowpack. Among the critical factors controlling snowpack evolution are: heating by the sun, radiational cooling, vertical temperature gradients in standing snow, snowfall amounts, and snow types. Generally, mild winter weather will promote the settlement and stabilization of the snowpack; conversely, very cold, windy, or hot weather will weaken the snowpack.
At temperatures close to the freezing point of water, or during times of moderate solar radiation, a gentle freeze-thaw cycle will take place. The melting and refreezing of water in the snow strengthens the snowpack during the freezing phase and weakens it during the thawing phase. A rapid rise in temperature, to a point significantly above the freezing point of water, may cause avalanche formation at any time of year.
Persistent cold temperatures can either prevent new snow from stabilizing or destabilize the existing snowpack. Cold air temperatures on the snow surface produce a temperature gradient in the snow, because the ground temperature at the base of the snowpack is usually around °C, and the ambient air temperature can be much colder. When a temperature gradient greater than 10 °C change per vertical meter of snow is sustained for more than a day, angular crystals called depth hoar or facets begin forming in the snowpack because of rapid moisture transport along the temperature gradient. These angular crystals, which bond poorly to one another and the surrounding snow, often become a persistent weakness in the snowpack. When a slab lying on top of a persistent weakness is loaded by a force greater than the strength of the slab and persistent weak layer, the persistent weak layer can fail and generate an avalanche.
Any wind stronger than a light breeze can contribute to a rapid accumulation of snow on sheltered slopes downwind. Wind slab forms quickly and, if present, weaker snow below the slab may not have time to adjust to the new load. Even on a clear day, wind can quickly load a slope with snow by blowing snow from one place to another. Top-loading occurs when wind deposits snow from the top of a slope; cross-loading occurs when wind deposits snow parallel to the slope. When a wind blows over the top of a mountain, the leeward, or downwind, side of the mountain experiences top-loading, from the top to the bottom of that lee slope. When the wind blows across a ridge that leads up the mountain, the leeward side of the ridge is subject to cross-loading. Cross-loaded wind-slabs are usually difficult to identify visually.
Snowstorms and rainstorms are important contributors to avalanche danger. Heavy snowfall will cause instability in the existing snowpack, both because of the additional weight and because the new snow has insufficient time to bond to underlying snow layers. Rain has a similar effect. In the short-term, rain causes instability because, like a heavy snowfall, it imposes an additional load on the snowpack; and, once rainwater seeps down through the snow, it acts as a lubricant, reducing the natural friction between snow layers that holds the snowpack together. Most avalanches happen during or soon after a storm.
Daytime exposure to sunlight will rapidly destabilize the upper layers of the snowpack if the sunlight is strong enough to melt the snow, thereby reducing its hardness. During clear nights, the snowpack can re-freeze when ambient air temperatures fall below freezing, through the process of long-wave radiative cooling, or both. Radiative heat loss occurs when the night air is significantly cooler than the snowpack, and the heat stored in the snow is re-radiated into the atmosphere.
When a slab avalanche forms, the slab disintegrates into increasingly smaller fragments as the snow travels downhill. If the fragments become small enough the outer layer of the avalanche, called a saltation layer, takes on the characteristics of a fluid. When sufficiently fine particles are present they can become airborne and, given a sufficient quantity of airborne snow, this portion of the avalanche can become separated from the bulk of the avalanche and travel a greater distance as a powder snow avalanche. Scientific studies using radar, following the 1999 Galtür avalanche disaster, confirmed the hypothesis that a saltation layer forms between the surface and the airborne components of an avalanche, which can also separate from the bulk of the avalanche.
Driving an avalanche is the component of the avalanche's weight parallel to the slope; as the avalanche progresses any unstable snow in its path will tend to become incorporated, so increasing the overall weight. This force will increase as the steepness of the slope increases, and diminish as the slope flattens. Resisting this are a number of components that are thought to interact with each other: the friction between the avalanche and the surface beneath; friction between the air and snow within the fluid; fluid-dynamic drag at the leading edge of the avalanche; shear resistance between the avalanche and the air through which it is passing, and shear resistance between the fragments within the avalanche itself. An avalanche will continue to accelerate until the resistance exceeds the forward force.
Attempts to model avalanche behaviour date from the early 20th century, notably the work of Professor Lagotala in preparation for the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix. His method was developed by A. Voellmy and popularised following the publication in 1955 of his Ueber die Zerstoerungskraft von Lawinen (On the Destructive Force of Avalanches).
Voellmy used a simple empirical formula, treating an avalanche as a sliding block of snow moving with a drag force that was proportional to the square of the speed of its flow:
He and others subsequently derived other formulae that take other factors into account, with the Voellmy-Salm-Gubler and the Perla-Cheng-McClung models becoming most widely used as simple tools to model flowing (as opposed to powder snow) avalanches.
Since the 1990s many more sophisticated models have been developed. In Europe much of the recent work was carried out as part of the SATSIE (Avalanche Studies and Model Validation in Europe) research project supported by the European Commission which produced the leading-edge MN2L model, now in use with the Service Restauration des Terrains en Montagne (Mountain Rescue Service) in France, and D2FRAM (Dynamical Two-Flow-Regime Avalanche Model), which was still undergoing validation as of 2007. Other known models are the SAMOS-AT avalanche simulation software and the RAMMS software.
Preventative measures are employed in areas where avalanches pose a significant threat to people, such as ski resorts, mountain towns, roads, and railways. There are several ways to prevent avalanches and lessen their power and deve preventative measures reduce the likelihood and size of avalanches by disrupting the structure of the snowpack, while passive measures reinforce and stabilize the snowpack in situ. The simplest active measure is repeatedly traveling on a snowpack as snow accumulates; this can be by means of boot-packing, ski-cutting, or machine grooming. Explosives are used extensively to prevent avalanches, by triggering smaller avalanches that break down instabilities in the snowpack, and removing overburden that can result in larger avalanches. Explosive charges are delivered by a number of methods including hand-tossed charges, helicopter-dropped bombs, Gazex concussion lines, and ballistic projectiles launched by air cannons and artillery. Passive preventive systems such as snow fences and light walls can be used to direct the placement of snow. Snow builds up around the fence, especially the side that faces the prevailing winds. Downwind of the fence, snow buildup is lessened. This is caused by the loss of snow at the fence that would have been deposited and the pickup of the snow that is already there by the wind, which was depleted of snow at the fence. When there is a sufficient density of trees, they can greatly reduce the strength of avalanches. They hold snow in place and when there is an avalanche, the impact of the snow against the trees slows it down. Trees can either be planted or they can be conserved, such as in the building of a ski resort, to reduce the strength of avalanches.
In turn, socio-environmental changes can influence the occurrence of damaging avalanches: some studies linking changes in land-use/land-cover patterns and the evolution of snow avalanche damage in mid latitude mountains show the importance of the role played by vegetation cover, that is at the root of the increase of damage when the protective forest is deforested (because of demographic growth, intensive grazing and industrial or legal causes), and at the root of the decrease of damage because of the transformation of a traditional land-management system based on overexploitation into a system based on land marginalization and reforestation, something that has happened mainly since the mid-20th century in mountain environments of developed countries
In many areas, regular avalanche tracks can be identified and precautions can be taken to minimise damage, such as the prevention of development in these areas. To mitigate the effect of avalanches the construction of artificial barriers can be very effective in reducing avalanche damage. There are several types: One kind of barrier (snow net) uses a net strung between poles that are anchored by guy wires in addition to their foundations. These barriers are similar to those used for rockslides. Another type of barrier is a rigid fence-like structure (snow fence) and may be constructed of steel, wood or pre-stressed concrete. They usually have gaps between the beams and are built perpendicular to the slope, with reinforcing beams on the downhill side. Rigid barriers are often considered unsightly, especially when many rows must be built. They are also expensive and vulnerable to damage from falling rocks in the warmer months. In addition to industrially manufactured barriers, landscaped barriers, called avalanche dams stop or deflect avalanches with their weight and strength. These barriers are made out of concrete, rocks or earth. They are usually placed right above the structure, road or railway that they are trying to protect, although they can also be used to channel avalanches into other barriers. Occasionally, earth mounds are placed in the avalanche's path to slow it down. Finally, along transportation corridors, large shelters, called snow sheds, can be built directly in the slide path of an avalanche to protect traffic from avalanches.
Warning systems can detect avalanches which develop slowly, such as ice avalanches caused by icefalls from glaciers. Interferometric Radars, high-resolution Cameras, or motion sensors can monitor instable areas over a long term, lasting from days to years. Experts interpret the recorded data and are able to recognize upcoming ruptures in order to initiate appropriate measures. Such systems (e.g. the monitoring of the Weissmies glacier in Switzerland) can recognize events several days in advance.
Modern radar technology enables the monitoring of large areas and the localization of avalanches at any weather condition, by day and by night. Complex alarm systems are able to detect avalanches within a short time in order to close (e.g. roads and rails) or evacuate (e.g. construction sites) endangered areas. An example of such a system is installed on the only access road of Zermatt in Switzerland. Two radars monitor the slope of a mountain above the road. The system automatically closes the road by activating several barriers and traffic lights within seconds such that no persons are harmed.
Avalanche accidents are broadly differentiated into 2 categories: accidents in recreational settings, and accidents in residential, industrial, and transportation settings. This distinction is motivated by the observed difference in the causes of avalanche accidents in the two settings. In the recreational setting most accidents are caused by the people involved in the avalanche. In a 1996 study, Jamieson et al. (pages 7–20) found that 83% of all avalanches in the recreational setting were caused by those who were involved in the accident. In contrast, all of the accidents in the residential, industrial, and transportation settings were due to spontaneous natural avalanches. Because of the difference in the causes of avalanche accidents, and the activities pursued in the two settings, avalanche and disaster management professionals have developed two related preparedness, rescue, and recovery strategies for each of the settings.
Two avalanches occurred in March 1910 in the Cascade and Selkirk Mountain ranges; On March 1 the Wellington avalanche killed 96 in Washington State, United States. Three days later 62 railroad workers were killed in the Rogers Pass avalanche in British Columbia, Canada.
During World War I, an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 soldiers died as a result of avalanches during the mountain campaign in the Alps at the Austrian-Italian front, many of which were caused by artillery fire. Some 10,000 men, from both sides, lost their lives in avalanches in December 1916.
In the northern hemisphere winter of 1950–1951 approximately 649 avalanches were recorded in a three-month period throughout the Alps in Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. This series of avalanches killed around 265 people and was termed the Winter of Terror.
A mountain climbing camp on Lenin Peak, in what is now Kyrgyzstan, was wiped out in 1990 when an earthquake triggered a large avalanche that overran the camp. Forty-three climbers were killed.
A large avalanche in Montroc, France, in 1999, 300,000 cubic metres of snow slid on a 30° slope, achieving a speed in the region of 100 km/h (62 mph). It killed 12 people in their chalets under 100,000 tons of snow, 5 meters (16 feet) deep. The mayor of Chamonix was convicted of second-degree murder for not evacuating the area, but received a suspended sentence.
The small Austrian village of Galtür was hit by the Galtür avalanche in 1999. The village was thought to be in a safe zone but the avalanche was exceptionally large and flowed into the village. Thirty-one people died.
On December 1, 2000, the Glory Bowl Avalanche formed on Mt. Glory which is located within the Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming, United States. Joel Roof was snowboarding recreationally in this backcountry, bowl-shaped run and triggered the avalanche. He was carried nearly 2,000 feet to the base of the mountain and was not successfully rescued.
In Europe, the avalanche risk is widely rated on the following scale, which was adopted in April 1993 to replace the earlier non-standard national schemes. Descriptions were last updated in May 2003 to enhance uniformity.
In France, most avalanche deaths occur at risk levels 3 and 4. In Switzerland most occur at levels 2 and 3. It is thought that this may be due to national differences of interpretation when assessing the risks.
|Risk Level||Snow Stability||Icon||Avalanche Risk|
|1 – Low||Snow is generally very stable.||Avalanches are unlikely except when heavy loads are applied on a very few extreme steep slopes. Any spontaneous avalanches will be minor sloughs. In general, safe conditions.|
|2 – Moderate||On some steep slopes the snow is only moderately stable. Elsewhere it is very stable.||Avalanches may be triggered when heavy loads are applied, especially on a few generally identified steep slopes. Large spontaneous avalanches are not expected.|
|3 – Considerable||On many steep slopes the snow is only moderately or weakly stable.||Avalanches may be triggered on many slopes even if only light loads are applied. On some slopes, medium or even fairly large spontaneous avalanches may occur.|
|4 – High||On most steep slopes the snow is not very stable.||Avalanches are likely to be triggered on many slopes even if only light loads are applied. In some places, many medium or sometimes large spontaneous avalanches are likely.|
|5 – Very High||The snow is generally unstable.||Even on gentle slopes, many large spontaneous avalanches are likely to occur.|
 additional load:
|Size||Runout||Potential Damage||Physical Size|
|1 – Sluff||Small snow slide that cannot bury a person, though there is a danger of falling.||Unlikely, but possible risk of injury or death to people.||length <50 m |
volume <100 m3
|2 – Small||Stops within the slope.||Could bury, injure or kill a person.||length <100 m |
volume <1,000 m3
|3 – Medium||Runs to the bottom of the slope.||Could bury and destroy a car, damage a truck, destroy small buildings or break trees.||length <1,000 m |
volume <10,000 m3
|4 – Large||Runs over flat areas (significantly less than 30°) of at least 50 m in length, may reach the valley bottom.||Could bury and destroy large trucks and trains, large buildings and forested areas.||length >1,000 m |
volume >10,000 m3
The Canadian classification for avalanche size is based upon the consequences of the avalanche. Half sizes are commonly used.
|1||Relatively harmless to people.|
|2||Could bury, injure or kill a person.|
|3||Could bury and destroy a car, damage a truck, destroy a small building or break a few trees.|
|4||Could destroy a railway car, large truck, several buildings or a forest area up to 4 hectares.|
|5||Largest snow avalanche known. Could destroy a village or a forest of 40 hectares.|
|1||Sluff or snow that slides less than 50m (150') of slope distance.|
|2||Small, relative to path.|
|3||Medium, relative to path.|
|4||Large, relative to path.|
|5||Major or maximum, relative to path.|
Slab avalanche hazard analysis can be done using the Rutschblock Test. A 2 m wide block of snow is isolated from the rest of the slope and progressively loaded. The result is a rating of slope stability on a seven step scale. (Rutsch means slide in German).
Based on order of magnitude estimates of the pressure amplitude of various sources that cause elastic or pressure (sound) waves it can be ruled out that shouting or loud noise can trigger snow slab avalanches. The amplitudes are at least about two orders of magnitude smaller than known efficient triggers. Triggering by sound really is a myth.
Media related to Avalanche chute at Wikimedia Commons
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The 2001 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 2000–01 season, and the culmination of the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was contested between the Eastern Conference champion and defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils and the Western Conference champion and Presidents' Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche. It was Colorado's second appearance in the Finals, and the first since the team won the Cup in 1996. It was New Jersey's third appearance in the Finals and second straight appearance after winning the Cup in the previous year.
Colorado defeated New Jersey in seven games to win their second Stanley Cup in franchise history. Colorado's Patrick Roy would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2001 playoffs. This was the first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 that would be decided in the maximum seven games. This was also the first and, as of 2019, most recent Finals since 1989 that the number one seeds in each conference met in the Finals.Avalanche Software
Avalanche Software, LLC, also known as WB Games | Avalanche, is an American video game developer based in Salt Lake City, Utah, founded in October 1995 by four video game programmers formerly of Sculptured Software: John Blackburn, Todd Blackburn, James Michael Henn and Gary Penacho. The studio was acquired by Buena Vista Games (later renamed Disney Interactive Studios) in May 2005, and spent the next ten years developing Disney-related titles, including the toys-to-life game Disney Infinity (2013). In May 2016, due to a declining toys-to-life games market overshadowed by the popularity of mobile gaming, Disney decided to step out of the video game industry, closing Disney Interactive Studios and all of its subsidiaries, including Avalanche Software. In January 2017, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced that they had acquired Avalanche Software and re-opened the company, which saw John Blackburn return as chief executive officer.Avalanche Studios
Fatalist Development AB, doing business as Avalanche Studios, is a Swedish video game developer based in Stockholm. Founded by Linus Blomberg and Christofer Sundberg in March 2003, Avalanche Studios focuses on developing open world projects and bases them on their proprietary Apex game engine (formerly known as Avalanche Engine). The company is best known for developing the Just Cause game series.
Formed after the collapse of Rock Solid Games, the studio gained early success with the first Just Cause title. The team then began Just Cause 2's development, but the company suffered from financial problems due to the cancellations of two contracted projects. Despite missing the release window twice, Just Cause 2 was both a critical and financial success for Avalanche Studios. The company then opened a New York City studio to work on Just Cause 3, while the Stockholm team began working on Mad Max in collaboration with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The company announced three titles in 2017, Rage 2 with id Software, Just Cause 4, and a self-published title named Generation Zero. Nordisk Film also acquired the company in the same year.
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In cryptography, the avalanche effect is the desirable property of cryptographic algorithms, typically block ciphers and cryptographic hash functions, wherein if an input is changed slightly (for example, flipping a single bit), the output changes significantly (e.g., half the output bits flip). In the case of high-quality block ciphers, such a small change in either the key or the plaintext should cause a drastic change in the ciphertext. The actual term was first used by Horst Feistel, although the concept dates back to at least Shannon's diffusion.
If a block cipher or cryptographic hash function does not exhibit the avalanche effect to a significant degree, then it has poor randomization, and thus a cryptanalyst can make predictions about the input, being given only the output. This may be sufficient to partially or completely break the algorithm. Thus, the avalanche effect is a desirable condition from the point of view of the designer of the cryptographic algorithm or device.
Constructing a cipher or hash to exhibit a substantial avalanche effect is one of the primary design objectives, and mathematically the construction takes advantage of the butterfly effect. This is why most block ciphers are product ciphers. It is also why hash functions have large data blocks. Both of these features allow small changes to propagate rapidly through iterations of the algorithm, such that every bit of the output should depend on every bit of the input before the algorithm terminates.Chevrolet Avalanche
The Chevrolet Avalanche is a four-door, five or six passenger pickup truck sharing GM's long-wheelbase chassis used on the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade EXT. Breaking with a long-standing tradition, the Avalanche was not available as a GMC, but only as a Chevrolet. Production of the Avalanche started in
September 2001 and ended April 2013; producing two generations in its lifespan.Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Avalanche are the only team in their division not based in the Central Time Zone; the team is situated in the Mountain Time Zone. Their home arena is Pepsi Center. Their general manager is Joe Sakic.
The Avalanche were founded in 1972 as the Quebec Nordiques and were one of the charter franchises of the World Hockey Association. The franchise joined the NHL in 1979 as a result of the NHL–WHA merger. Following the 1994–95 season, they were sold to the COMSAT Entertainment Group and relocated to Denver.
In the club's first season in Denver, the Avalanche won the Pacific Division and went on to sweep the Florida Panthers in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, becoming the first NHL team to win the Stanley Cup in the season following a relocation. Among teams in the major North American professional sports leagues, only the National Football League (NFL)'s Washington Redskins have also accomplished the feat. This was the first major professional sports championship a Denver-based team would bring to the city.
In the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, the Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils 4–3 to win their second and most recent championship. As a result, they are the only active NHL team that has won all of its Stanley Cup Final appearances.
The Avalanche have won nine division titles (including their first eight in a row in Denver, the longest such streak in NHL history) and qualified for the playoffs in each of their first ten seasons in Denver; this streak ended in 2007.Colorado Avalanche–Detroit Red Wings brawl
The Avalanche–Red Wings brawl was a large-scale on-ice melee that occurred March 26, 1997, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, between two National Hockey League (NHL) rivals: the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. The brawl, which has been nicknamed Bloody Wednesday, Fight Night at the Joe and Brawl in Hockeytown, stemmed from a previous on-ice incident between the two teams during the 1996 Western Conference Finals.Colorado Eagles
The Colorado Eagles are a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Loveland, Colorado. The Eagles play in the Pacific Division of the American Hockey League's Western Conference.
The Eagles were founded as an expansion franchise in 2003 in the Central Hockey League and remained in the league until June 2011, when they joined the ECHL. During their time in the CHL, the Eagles won two Ray Miron President's Cups, three regular season titles, five conference titles and six division titles in eight seasons. The team was granted a membership as an expansion team in the American Hockey League beginning with the 2018–19 season as the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League.
The Eagles play at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland and serve the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan area.Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog (pronounced [²ɡɑːbrɪɛl ²landɛˌskuːɡ]; born 23 November 1992) is a Swedish professional ice hockey forward who currently serves as captain of the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected second overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by Colorado. On 4 September 2012, Landeskog was named the fourth captain in Colorado Avalanche history, at the time becoming the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years and 286 days.Joe Sakic
Joseph Steven Sakic (; born July 7, 1969) is a Canadian professional ice hockey executive and former player. He played his entire 21-year National Hockey League (NHL) career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise. Named captain of the team in 1992 (after serving as a co-captain in 1990–91), Sakic is regarded as one of the most capable team leaders in league history and was able to consistently motivate his team to play at a winning level. Sakic led the Avalanche to Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001, being named the most valuable player of the 1996 playoffs, and honored as the MVP of the NHL in 2001 by the hockey writers and his fellow players. He is one of six players to participate in both of the team's Stanley Cup victories. Sakic was also named to play in 13 NHL All-Star Games and selected to the NHL First All-Star Team at centre three times.
Over the course of his career, Sakic was one of the most productive forwards in the game, having twice scored 50 goals and earning at least 100 points in six different seasons. His wrist shot, considered one of the best in the NHL, was the source of much of his production as goalies around the league feared his rapid snap-shot release. At the conclusion of the 2008–09 NHL season, he was the eighth all-time points leader in the NHL, as well as 14th in all-time goals and 11th in all-time assists. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, Sakic helped lead Team Canada to its first ice hockey gold medal in 50 years, and was voted as the tournament's most valuable player. He represented the team in six other international competitions, including the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics.
Sakic retired from the NHL on July 9, 2009, and had his jersey number retired prior to the Avalanche's 2009–10 season opener on October 1, 2009, at Pepsi Center. On November 12, 2012, Sakic was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with Adam Oates, Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin. On April 11, 2013, Sakic and 11 others were inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. He served as executive advisor and alternate governor for the Avalanche, effective at the end of the 2010–11 season, and promoted to Executive Vice President of hockey operations on May 10, 2013. In 2017, Sakic was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.Landslide
The term landslide or, less frequently, landslip, refers to several forms of mass wasting that include a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep-seated slope failures, mudflows and debris flows. Landslides occur in a variety of environments, characterized by either steep or gentle slope gradients: from mountain ranges to coastal cliffs or even underwater, in which case they are called submarine landslides. Gravity is the primary driving force for a landslide to occur, but there are other factors affecting slope stability which produce specific conditions that make a slope prone to failure. In many cases, the landslide is triggered by a specific event (such as a heavy rainfall, an earthquake, a slope cut to build a road, and many others), although this is not always identifiable.List of deaths on eight-thousanders
The eight-thousanders are the 14 mountains that rise more than 8,000 metres (26,247 ft) above sea level; they are all in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges.
This is a list of mountaineers who have died on these mountains.List of people who died climbing Mount Everest
Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), is the world's highest mountain and a particularly desirable peak for mountaineers. More than 300 people have died trying to climb it. The last year without known deaths on the mountain was 1977, a year in which only two people reached the summit.Most deaths have been attributed to avalanches, injury from fall, serac collapse, exposure, frostbite, or health problems related to conditions on the mountain. Not all bodies have been located, so details on those deaths are not available.
The upper reaches of the mountain are in the death zone. The "death zone" is a mountaineering term for altitudes above a certain point – around 8,000 m (26,000 ft), or less than 356 millibars (5.16 psi) of atmospheric pressure – where the oxygen level is not sufficient to sustain human life. Many deaths in high-altitude mountaineering have been caused by the effects of the death zone, either directly (loss of vital functions) or indirectly (unwise decisions made under stress or physical weakening leading to accidents).
In the death zone, the human body cannot acclimatize, as it uses oxygen faster than it can be replenished. An extended stay in the zone without supplementary oxygen will result in deterioration of bodily functions, loss of consciousness and, ultimately, death.Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is a newspaper based in Lubbock, Texas, United States. It is owned by GateHouse Media.Mount Colden
Mount Colden is the eleventh-highest peak in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, New York, United States.
The peak was named after David S. Colden, an investor in the McIntyre Iron Works, in 1836. The peak was briefly renamed "Mount McMartin" the next year, but the older name persisted. The mountain is known for its distinctive Trap Dike, a large crevice running up the center of the mountain, which can clearly be seen from Avalanche Lake.
There are two maintained trails up Mount Colden. The first, which approaches from the northeast, passes by Lake Arnold before ascending the summit after crossing over several false summits. This trail was laid out in 1966 to replace a steeper trail which ascended the southeast face of the mountain and which was abandoned by 1975. The second trail, which is steeper, approaches from the southwest, starting from Lake Colden. Both approaches can be reached from the popular Adirondak Loj trailhead. After hiking from the Loj to the Avalanche Lean-Tos, climbers can head southwest through Avalanche Pass and past Avalanche Lake to reach Lake Colden and the trail to Colden from the southwest. Alternatively, they can head southeast to reach Lake Arnold and the northeast approach. Lake Colden and the southwest approach can also be reached from the Upper Works trailhead. Finally, the summit of Mount Colden can be reached by climbing the Trap Dike from Avalanche Lake. This approach leads to a long slide and a short bushwhack to the summit. This last approach does not follow a maintained trail, is extremely steep in places, and should be used with caution.Patrick Roy
Patrick Jacques Roy (French pronunciation: [ʁwa]; born October 5, 1965) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender and the former head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He is currently the general manager and head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He is regarded as one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. In 2017 Roy was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.Nicknamed "Saint Patrick," Roy split his playing career in the NHL between the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he played for 11 years, and the Avalanche, with whom he played for eight years. Roy won four Stanley Cups during his career, two with each franchise. Roy was born in Quebec City, but grew up in Cap-Rouge, Quebec.
In 2004, Roy was selected as the greatest goaltender in NHL history by a panel of 41 writers, coupled with a simultaneous fan poll. On November 13, 2006, Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (the award given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs) three times, the only one to do so in different decades, and the only one to do so for two teams. Roy's number 33 jersey is retired by both the Canadiens and Avalanche.
Roy is widely credited with popularizing the butterfly style of goaltending, which has since become the dominant style of goaltending around the world. He has previously served as the general manager and head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), positions to which he returned in May 2018. Before stepping down in the 2016 off-season, Roy had been the head coach of the Avalanche since the 2013–14 season, during which he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach.Pepsi Center
Pepsi Center is a multi-purpose arena located in Denver, Colorado, USA. The arena is home to the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL), and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). When not in use by one of Denver's sports teams, the building frequently serves as a concert venue.The arena is named for its chief corporate sponsor, PepsiCo.Stan Kroenke
Enos Stanley Kroenke (; born July 29, 1947) is an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is the owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which is the holding company of English Premier League football club Arsenal, the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, and the newly formed Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League.
The Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche franchises are currently owned by his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, to satisfy NFL ownership restrictions that forbid a team owner from owning teams in other markets.
Ann is the daughter of Walmart co-founder James "Bud" Walton.
He was estimated to be worth US$8.5 billion by Forbes in 2018.