Meaning of Avalanche

What is Avalanche:

Avalanches are natural phenomena that occur when a considerable mass of snow breaks off and slides down the slopes of mountains and rugged terrain. The word, as such, comes from the French avalanche.

Avalanches occur as a consequence of the accumulation of snow in mountainous areas where the slopes of the mountains and the concurrence of a series of physical and meteorological factors give rise to movements of large amounts of snow.

Avalanches can be of a superficial type if only the outermost part of the snow cover is mobilized, or at the bottom, when not only the snow layer is mobilized, but even this, in its movement, erodes the substrate of the slope and it carries with it part of the vegetation cover of the slope.

Avalanches can be formed by any of the following causes:

  • Due to lack of homogeneity between the layers of snow.
  • Due to excess weight, when the amount of snow is greater than a surface can support.
  • By rain, when a recent layer penetrates, and it slides due to the weight of the water.
  • Due to changes in environmental temperature that can affect the cohesion of the snow.
  • Due to the soil conditions, especially when they are this, it is conducive to the sliding of materials on its surface (clay, smooth, humid or frozen soils).

Depending on their magnitude, avalanches can be classified on a scale ranging from weak to very strong, the latter being highly dangerous.

Depending on the victims and damages that an avalanche can cause, it can also be considered a natural disaster.

Avalanche can also designate, in a general way, any considerable mass of matter that is detached and precipitates from a slope. For example: "The detachment of the tree produced a landslide."

The word avalanche can also be used figuratively in reference to a large quantity of something. For example: avalanche of kisses, avalanche of praise, human avalanche, etc.

Avalanche types

Avalanche of loose snow

It is the type of avalanche that occurs after heavy snowfall. Fresh snow, accumulating more than 25 cm thick, is conducive to sliding, especially when it falls on a smooth snow mass. This type of avalanche tends to carry more and more snow on its way.

Plate avalanche

A plate avalanche occurs when a packed snow surface breaks off and slides down the slope. It looks like a block of snow cut from its surroundings. It is a fairly frequent type of avalanche and carries great risks.

Wet snow avalanche

The wet snow avalanche is typical of the season when temperatures begin to rise, towards the end of winter and the beginning of spring. They tend to be slower and lower in suspension.

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