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Avalanche sizes

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The European avalanche warning services divide avalanches into five size categories (based on the Canadian classification). The avalanche size is defined, among other things, by the potential damage caused.

Under this definition, fatal 'skier-triggered avalanches' are often classified as 'medium' or (barely) as 'large' avalanches and reaches considerable dimensions, being typically 150 m in length and having a slab size of some 50 m by 80 m and an average slab thickness of around 50 cm. This is equivalent to a slab volume of approximately 2000 m3 or around 400 tonnes.


Size 1: Small avalanche (sluff)

Potential damage:

Unlikely to bury a person, except in unfavourable runout zones

In extreme terrain there is a danger of falling.


Stops on a steep slope

Typical dimensions

Length:           10 – 30 m

Volume:               100 m3


Size 2: Medium avalanche