Avalanche Risk For Victoria

Fatal snow slips possible today

Avalanche Risk For Victoria

Image: Twitter / Mt Hotham

Victorian ski resorts might be enjoying the best powder ever right now, but the heavy falls are not all cause for celebration.

There is a real risk of avalanches in the alps today and tourists have been urged to avoid skiing, snowboarding, or hiking in back-country areas.

The Emergency Services Commissioner is warning about non-patrolled areas in particular. 

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Yesterday, controlled avalanches were carried out to reduce risk today, but the combination of warmer conditions and strong winds mean there could be more mountain slips where heavy snow has fallen.

Mt Bogong, Mt Feathertop, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek all have warnings in place.

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Motorists have also been warned of closures on roads.

In 2014, the bodies of two Melbourne men, Martie Buckland and Daniel Kerr were found on Mt Bogong, buried under 1.5m of snow after an avalanche.

National Geographic details how an avalanche occurs:

  • Massive slabs of snow break loose from a mountainside and shatter like broken glass as they race downhill.
  • These moving masses can reach speeds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour within about five seconds. Victims caught in these events seldom escape.
  • Avalanches are most common during and in the 24 hours right after a storm that dumps 12 inches (30 centimeters) or more of fresh snow.
  • The quick pileup overloads the underlying snowpack, which causes a weak layer beneath the slab to fracture.
  • The layers are an archive of winter weather: Big dumps, drought, rain, a hard freeze, and more snow.
  • How the layers bond often determines how easily one will weaken and cause a slide.
  • Storminess, temperature, wind, slope steepness and orientation (the direction it faces), terrain, vegetation, and general snowpack conditions are all factors that influence whether and how a slope avalanches.
  • Different combinations of these factors create low, moderate, considerable, and high avalanche hazards.
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