An avalanche that releases from a single point and entrains cohesionless snow as it fans downhill.

Credit: Crested Butte Avalanche Center

Loose snow avalanches (also called sluffs or point releases) vary in size, depending on how much snow is entrained and on the size of the terrain feature where they occur.  Loose snow avalanches release immediately below their trigger point and are typically smaller and more predictable than slab avalanches. As a result, they cause fewer avalanche fatalities. Accidents involving loose snow avalanches often result from victims getting dragged into terrain traps such as gullies, cliffs, couloirs, or trees. Wet loose avalanches can pack a heavier punch and grow to very destructive sizes.

Loose avalanches predictably release from a single point below a trigger. Credit: Crested Butte Avalanche Center

Even loose snow avalanches can be destructive. This one entrained enough wet snow to snap trees. Credit: Sawtooth Avalanche Center