Avalanche Stats

Avalanche Stats

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Please visit the CIAC for current National Avalanche Statistics.

Here is an Avalanche Fatality Map, a great way to look at national fatalities year by year on a map, by Datafy Me.


Utah Statistics


Avalanches are overwhelmingly the most dangerous natural hazard in Utah. 

US Fatalities by Season  1950/51 to 2011/12       Courtesy of caic  


Avalanche fatalities in the U.S. continue an alarmingly rapid rise.

Data above and below of the past 5 and  10 years.  Avalanches make no distinction between users.  As they say, "The avalanche does not know that you are an expert."


Times are changing.  The graph above shows the percentage of all deaths in each recreation group.  
Snowmobile deaths nationwide have skyrocketed in the past two decades and snowboarders have also risen.  Climbers account for a smaller and smaller percentage while skiers remain about the same.

 Utah is tied for third (with Alaska) for fatalities.  Colorado has always been at or near the top.  The graph below sheds light on the geographical distribution of fatalities in Utah. 




Luckily, avalanches are fairly benevolent.  They allow us several cheap lessons before we get an expensive one.  However, sometimes the final exam comes before the lesson.
 Since about half of totally buried people die, even with beacons, it's important to avoid being buried.  This is the reason avalanche air bags work very well. But it's also important to have an escape route pre-planned so that if you are caught, you tend to be caught in a part of the avalanche that is more likely to leave you on or near the surface, for instance, near the crown or flanks of an avalanche. 
 Two thirds of avalanche fatalities in Utah as well as nationwide are not carrying basic rescue gear.  This indicates that ignorance is the leading cause of avalanche death.  These statistics are very similar to the number of drowning victims who don't wear personal flotation devices.