What To Do If You're Caught In An Avalanche

By Chris Lehman

Snow continues to pound ski resorts across the region and large numbers of Northwesterners are expected to hit the slopes this holiday weekend. But with the increased snowpack comes the risk of avalanches. Already this week, two Seattle cross-country skiers died in an avalanche in northeast Oregon.

Dennis D'Amico is a forecaster with the Northwest Avalanche Center in Seattle. He says if you're skiing, the best way to avoid an avalanche is stay within the boundary of the ski resort.

Dennis D'Amico: "Once you step outside those gates, you are not guaranteed anything."

D'Amico says if you do head out in the backcountry, keep an eye out for avalanche debris. That could mean conditions are prime for more activity. He says watch for cracks along the surface of the snow. And, leave yourself a way out—in other words, don't ski or hike into a narrow ravine. And he says if you do get caught up a roar of snow and ice…

Dennis D'Amico: "Try to swim and stay on top of the avalanche and kind of go diagonally towards the sides."

He says the sides are better since you're more likely to be near the surface when the avalanche stops. D'Amico says being near the surface is the key to survival.


Northwest Avalanche Center: http://www.nwac.us/

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