The best sign of avalanches are other avalanches. You can't get much more obvious than that.
Look for the following signs:
Collapsing snow. When you hear the snowpack collapse catastrophically with a giant "whoomph", that's the sound of the snowpack screaming in your ear that it's extremely unstable. Stay off of steep slopes and stay out from underneath steep slopes.
Cracking snow. Recent wind loading, especially, creates cracking snow. The longer the crack, the more dangerous. Stay off of steep slopes.
Avalanche weather. Just like people, avalanches do not like RAPID changes.
Recent rapid loading of new or windblown snow
Recent rapid warming
Recent rapid melting
Rain on new snow
Most avalanches occur on slopes between 35 and 45 degrees.
Slopes less than 30 degrees seldom produce avalanches
slopes steeper than about 50 degrees sluff so often that they tend not to build up into slabs.
So it's the intermediate slope steepness that produces most of the avalanches.
Skiers off piste
Recent rapid warming
If you get caught in an avalanche:
If you're descending on skis or snowboard, try heading straight down hill to build up some speed, then angle off to the side off the moving slab
get ride of all equipment and try to swim hard as if you were in water
Try and clear an air space in front of your mouth. This helps delay the formation of an ice mask, which allows you to breathe longer under the snow.
Push a hand upward. Visual clues allow your friends to find you faster.
After the avalanche comes to a stop, the debris will instantly set up like concrete. So any actions you take must occur BEFORE it comes to a stop. Unless you are very near the surface or have a hand sticking up out of the snow, it's almost impossible to dig yourself out of an avalanche.
After 45 minutes, only eight percent of victimes are still alive.
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