Avalanches 101

Avalanches 101

An avalanche can tumble down a mountain slope, burying everything in its path.


3 - 12+


Geography, Physical Geography

Fast Fact

  • Approximately 90% of avalanche incidents are triggered by a victim or someone with the victim.

Fast Fact

  • Avalanches can reach speeds of approximately 129 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) within five seconds.

Fast Fact

  • Avalanches are most common during and in the 24 hours after a storm dumps 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) or more of snow.

Fast Fact

  • Although many people believe that avalanches occur without warning, there are many precursors. Avalanches actually begin several hours or days before the snowfall, because previous snowfalls may have already weakend the layers below.

Fast Fact

  • If you are caught in an avalanche, it's best to try to "swim" to the surface.

Fast Fact

  • If dug out within 15 minutes, about 93% of avalanche victims survive.
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O'Shannon Burns
National Geographic Society
Nina Page, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

September 27, 2022

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