DISCUSSION: A recent GWCC article described the impacts of a snow drought in the mountains of the western U.S. and also mentioned that snowfall in the southern Rockies is often contributed by a few large storms as opposed to more frequent smaller snowfalls. One such storm recently occurred dumping several feet of snow in some places in the Sierra Nevada. This was great news for ski resorts, but it comes at a cost - a higher risk of avalanches. In particular, the snowfall associated with this storm fell in layers of drier, colder and warmer, wetter snow. These layers don't always freeze to one another so well and provide surfaces along which snow can easily slide. In fact, avalanches occurred at two California ski resorts (Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain Ski Resorts [a sign from the latter pictured above]). Fortunately, there were no reports of missing people or fatalities from these avalanches.
For those who enjoy skiing and other similar types of recreational activities, there is always a potential avalanche risk. So, to avoid being killed by one, it is important to take certain precautions (e.g., not skiing in particularly dangerous weather conditions, always skiing with a friend, having a GPS beacon so that you can be located in case you are buried, etc.).
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© 2018 Meteorologist Dr. Ken Leppert II