importance of being prepared for an avalanche

Avalanche Awareness

Avalanche Awareness

Every outdoor recreation season has hazards and dangers to look out for. Hazards in the winter vary from freezing temperatures and getting caught in snowstorms to avalanches at higher elevations. 

Earlier this month, New England and other parts of the Northeast braced for an arctic blast and predicted below-zero temperatures. Cities like Boston called a state of emergency, increasing services to provide shelter from the cold and urging citizens to check on their neighbors and avoid prolonged outdoor activity.

winter ski trail mountain summit snowy overlook

Our #merinoholic Stephen skiing in Wyoming - 2021

On Saturday, February 4th, 2023, the summit of Mount Washington experienced record-breaking wind chill temperatures, measuring -108 degrees. Temperatures were well below zero, with wind gusts of 90mph on the summit of Mt. Washington. 

Despite the arctic blast and the arrival of winter, temperatures here in New England have been well above the seasonal average. With warmer weather and varying conditions, it’s important to remember that the mountains are always unpredictable, but even more so with varying winter weather conditions.

Although most avalanches occur after snow storms, “wet avalanches occur when temperatures, sun or rain cause water to percolate the snowpack and decrease its strength.” According to Protect Our Winters, “these avalanches move slower than their dry cousins but are still dangerous. Wet slides often become a factor in the spring, when temperatures rise and the sun moves high across the sky.” 

Just this weekend, in Washington state, a group of climbers was involved in a human-triggered avalanche that resulted in fatalities and injuries sustained in the fall. The climbers were based on the East Coast, from New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. None of the identities have been released, but our condolences go out to those involved and their families.

If you hike, ski, or recreate in the mountains in the winter, we have some avalanche safety information to help you stay prepared and recognize the conditions in which avalanches occur.

Looking up at the summit of a mountain trail covered in snow

Our #merinoholic hiking in Washington state - 2018

The Avalanche Danger Scale and Safety Basics:


National Resources:

Mount Washington Avalanche Center:

Northwest Avalanche Center:

Avalanche Canada:

U.S. Avalanche Centers: