Keep Your Eyes Open For Avalanche Danger


By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) When you have a large amount of snow in a short amount of time like we did today, those are often prime conditions for avalanche danger.

Here in southern Idaho, if it snows down in the valleys, you can be sure it's going to snow in the mountains. And if we get plenty of snow down low, there's no doubt there will be even more up higher.

Jamey Wills, General Manager of Action Cycles and Sleds, says, "A crucial time to be aware. A good amount of fresh snow on top of what was a fairly packed base is a good indicator for some avalanche danger."

Probably the best indicator that you're in avalanche territory is if there's already been an avalanche. You need to be especially careful if you're riding a snow machine on or near a slope with an angle of 30 degrees or more from horizontal.

Rich Gummersall, State OHV Education Coordinator for Idaho Parks and Recreation, says, "That means if they're climbing a hill that's above 30 degrees, or even if they're traversing across the hill that's exposed to a 30 degree slope, we only want to expose one rider to avalanche danger at a time."

Some signs to look for that indicate a possible avalanche are if you see the snow cracking or collapsing, or hear "whumphing." All of those things mean there's a very weak layer of snow underneath the most recent snowfall.

Wills says, "They need to carry their safety equipment with them, have a beacon, a shovel, and a probe at minimum, and know how to use them. Because you really only have a 15 minute window to get your friend out if he's buried and save his live. Make sure your friends know how to use them so they can save your life."

Feb. 8, 2013.

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