New Zealand Mountan Safety Council

Online Course - Basics - Avalanche Size


Avalanches range from tiny loose snow sloughs (pronounced sluffs) up to monstrous walls of snow like a tsunami. Generally the bigger they are, the greater the destruction will be. We rate avalanche size using this scale:

We classify avalanche size in a scale ranging from 1 to 5. This table gives you an idea of what each size means, and also the icon that you will see in the Backcountry Advisory.

NOTE: Small slides can be enough to cause injury/death if you find yourself in an exposed place like a steep walled gully, ice couloir, or above a cliff. (Terrain traps – more on this later)

Watch the following videos, and think about how big they are according to the scale above. Imagine your house filing up 1m deep in snow. Would it cover the area of a bedroom? A whole ground floor? The ground floor of 10 houses? 2 rugby fields? or more?



Avalanche Forecast Regions:
Mountain Safety Council managed websites
Mountainf Safety Council websiteAdventure Smart websiteNew Zealand Avalanche Center

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