What Is an Avalanche?

From PBS - NOVA Online:

"An avalanche, or slide, is simply a mass of snow moving down a slope. There are two basic elements to a slide; a steep, snow-covered slope and a trigger. But despite this apparent simplicity, avalanches can be surprisingly hard to predict. Changing weather conditions continually affect the strength of the layers within the snowpack, and the snowpack on every slope is different depending on what exposure that slope has to the wind and sun."

Avalanches occur in mountainous areas. Learn more about avalanches and how to avoid them:

  • Avalanche Awareness
    Learn more about avalanches and what precautions to take. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) archives and distributes digital and analog snow and ice data.
  • Forest Service National Avalanche Center
    Covers avalanche basics, an interactive tour and links to other great resources.
  • National Avalanche Centers
    A listing of avalanche centers across the U.S. and Canada. Click on a city to find the website link and further information.
  • NOVA Online: Avalanche!
    An overview of the TV program NOVA's Avalanche! special. Learn about the elements of an avalanche, the makings of the TV program and links to other resources.