Avalanches

By Sam Myer

The Cause of Avalanches

Avalanches are similar to landslides in that a large amount of snow or ice debris falls down a mountainside. This natural disaster occurs in mountainous areas when a large mass of snow builds up until the mountainside can no longer support the weight. Avalanches are not found in areas other than mountain ranges with a lot of snow. Avalanches are usually triggered from the following features: temperature, amount of snow, mountainside steepness or angle, and vibration.

The Effects of Avalanches

The Impacts of Avalanches on Local and Global Areas

Avalanches can be very destructive to communities near avalanche prone areas and have taken the lives of many people. One of the most deadly avalanches ever recorded was the Huascaran Avalanche in Peru. This Event was caused by an earthquake in 1970. The avalanche buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. Very few people from these towns survived the incident, and a new town of Yungay was built near the old one. Although avalanches are very destructive, they do not have a global effect because of the small area where they occur.


Avalanche Technology

Avalanches are dangerous and can sometimes be hard to detect, but there are certain test and patrol teams that are always on the watch in mountainous areas. One of these tests is the snow pack test, where the density and weight of the snow is tested to find the probability of avalanches in that area. Another way of finding avalanches is the trained professionals that tour the mountain looking for the signs to an avalanche. Meteorologists also use avalanche radar, and in areas where there are a lot people, such as ski resorts, small avalanches are made intentionally to break up the snow and prevent larger ones from happening in the future. Usually this technology is accurate, but avalanche simulations tend to be very inaccurate and could be improved.


The Aftermath of Avalanches

Avalanches can be deadly and destructive when they occur in areas occupied by people. They cover and sometimes destroy buildings, roads, and even entire towns. However, there are many people who work to rebuild what the avalanche destroyed. One of these groups of people are the search and rescue teams, whose job is to find the people buried in the snow.


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