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Snowball Triggers Massive Avalanche
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Wednesday, March 20, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Careful with those snowball fights!

Sawtooth Avalanche forecaster Ben VandenBos threw a snowball near Dollarhide Summit in the Smoky Mountains on Sunday--St. Patrick’s Day—and it triggered an impressive wet slab avalanche that ran 1,400 feet to the valley below.

While countless skiers have been loving the spring skiing, six days of springtime warmup have rendered the snowpack less friendly by the day, forecasters wrote Tuesday morning. The avalanche risk is considerable, with meltwater gouging and undercutting snowpacks.

Cornices are weakening and failing, as well.

Three wet slab avalanches were triggered in the past couple days in the Galena Summit area. And VandenBos also remotely triggered a destructive wet slab avalanche near Senate Peak, in the vicinity of Galena Lodge.

With the temperature 33 degrees at 6 a.m. in Hailey Tuesday morning, the days are heating up fast and the avalanche dangers rising with the temperatures.

“Human-triggered wet snow avalanches will become likely in the heat of the day and will release naturally,” forecasters said Tuesday. “Today is a day to stay off of and out from under steep, sunny slopes.”

Avalanches will be smaller and less likely where there is less snow in the Wood River Valley Mountains, forecasters added.

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