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How Avalanche Hazard Develops
Written: 2008.03.10 by: Frank W. Baumann

Avalanche hazard most commonly develops when inherently weak snow crystals, such as near-surface facets and/or surface hoar, form on or near the snow surface, and are then covered first with cold new crystals, and then a thicker cohesive slab of new snow. The thicker and denser the slab, and the steeper the slope on which it rests, the greater is the probability of avalanching. The colder the snowpack is, the longer will the danger persist.

From Falling Snow to Falling Snow: How Avalanche Hazard Develops [photo]littlewhistleravaMR.jpg[caption]Typical mid-winter slab avalanche[/photo] Avalanche hazard may develop in many ways, but knowing how it commonly develops can help winter recreationists make informed decisions about managing avalanche risk. The snowpack is made of individual snow crystals, most of which fall out of the sky during successive winter storms. For the purposes of this article, the discussion is limited to typical mid-winter conditions, and does not deal with either early or late winter situations. The

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