Fatalities, accidents, incidents, or near misses with avalanches involving people.

Avalanche centers and researchers describe human involvements with avalanches using different terms depending on the severity of the involvement: 

  • Near Miss: Near misses or “close calls” are defined as a triggered or natural avalanche that would have caused serious harm if nearby individuals were involved.  Although no one came in contact with the avalanche due to fortunate timing or location on a slope, there was a high potential for burying, injuring, or killing someone should circumstances have gone differently.

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  • Avalanche Incident: Avalanche incidents are human encounters with avalanches – anytime a person comes into contact with moving avalanche debris.

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  • Avalanche Accident: Avalanche accidents are defined as burials, injuries, or fatalities resulting from an avalanche.

Credit: Utah Avalanche Center

  • Avalanche Fatality: An avalanche fatality is when a person is killed by traumatic injuries or suffocation as a result of a natural or triggered avalanche. A comprehensive record of avalanche fatalities is maintained by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at https://avalanche.state.co.us/accidents/us/. The nearest avalanche center usually performs a site investigation and produces a detailed report of the avalanche fatality.

Credit: The Denver Post