11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012


An avalanche is a sudden, rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers, such as loading from new snow or rain, or artifical triggers, such as explosives or backcountry skiers, overload the snowpack. From a geophysical perspective, avalanches are an example of a non-critical, punctuated equilibrium system. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the descending snow. Powerful avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other material on the slope. Avalanches are primarily composed of flowing snow, and are distinct from mudslides, rock slides, and serac collapses on an icefall. In contrast to other natural events which can cause disasters, avalanches are not rare or random events and are endemic to any mountain range that accumulates a standing snowpack. In mountainous terrain avalanches are among the most serious objective hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry an enormous mass of snow rapidly over large distances.

Avalanches are classified by their morphological characteristics and are rated by either their destructive potential, or the mass of the downward flowing snow. Some of the morphological characteristics used to classify avalanches include the type of snow involved, the nature of the failure, the sliding surface, the propagation mechanism of the failure, the trigger of the avalanche, the slope angle, slope aspect, and elevation. The size of an avalanche, its mass and its destructive potential are rated on a logarithmic scale, typically of 5 categories, with the precise definition of the categories depending on the observation system or geographic region in which the avalanche occurs.

Causes of Avalanche

1. Layers of snow build up and slide down the mountain
2. A vibration or movement like the voice of a person or a train can start and avalanche
3. Certain weather conditions like wind and rain
4. A rock or a piece of ice can shake the snow to slide down the mountain
5. Water under the snow could make the snow slide
6. A section of the snow could fall down or break apart and slide down the mountain

Effects of Avalanche

Avalanches have the most disastrous effects in the mountainous regions and the towns or ski safety resorts near them. It is because of this reason that a continuous monitoring is done on the presence of dangerous avalanches. At times they are often stopped with the help of explosions to prevent them from gathering more mass. Avalanche can destroy an entire town which comes in its way. Avalanche Safety measures are some ways in which this force of nature can be tackled.

Types of Avalanche

There are three basic kinds of avalanches. Each depends on the right mixture of air temperature, ground temperature, the steepness of the terrain, the kind of snow that has fallen, and how the snow changes on the ground.
1. Loose Snow Avalanche
2. Ice Fall Avalanche
3. Cornice Fall Avalanche
4. Slab Avalanche

Avalanche Videos & Images

Here you can find latest video & images of famous Avalanche.

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