Three Avalanches Kill Two People in Montana

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Three avalanches in Montana took the lives of two snowmobilers and a skier, as reported by the Associated Press. According to Granite County Sheriff Stephen Immenschuh, unstable snow exists in the mountain area presenting dangerous conditions for snowmobilers and skiers.

What is an avalanche?

An avalanche is another name for a snow slide or a multitude of snow sliding down a mountain. As reported at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, four conditions must be present for an avalanche to occur: "A steep slope, a snow cover, a weak layer in the snow cover, and a trigger." They tend to occur either during or soon after a storm where lots of snow has fallen, as reported at The Encyclopedia of Earth.

Do loud noises cause avalanches?

For sound to trigger an avalanche, it would have to be extremely loud. "Even sonic booms or low-flying helicopters trigger avalanches only in extremely unstable conditions in which natural avalanches would likely occur on their own anyway," as reported at Utah Avalanche Center. It's the victim or the victim's party who are triggering avalanches, in 90 percent of the cases.

Can you outrun an avalanche?

If you are caught in an avalanche, the death rate is high, according to Outdoor Places. Outrunning an avalanche, even on a snowmobile, is slim. A dry slab avalanche can go as quickly as 60 mph to 80 mph, and they hit these speeds within seconds of moving, according to Utah Avalanche Center. A wet slab avalanche moves slower at only around 20 mph.

If you're covered by an avalanche, is there much hope for survival?

Carbon dioxide poisoning is what kills victims of avalanches. But 93 percent of victims can survive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, as reported at Utah Avalanche Center. The more time passes, the less your chances of survival.

What is the best way to avoid an avalanche?

When it comes to avalanche deaths, victims are typically backcountry recreationists such as snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders. Snowmobilers are twice as likely to die, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

However, those who are trained in avalanche safety and survival make up less than 1 percent of avalanche fatalities, as reported at The Art of Manliness. Courses, such as those at the American Avalanche Institute, are advised for anyone who spends time in the snow covered mountains.

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