Avoid Avalanche Hazards

General Information

  • Avalanche information is updated as conditions change.
  • Large or small, avalanches are deadly!  Terrain, weather and your judgment are important factors to avoid getting caught in an avalanche.
  • Avalanche forecasts apply outside developed ski areas.
  • Avalanches are most common on 30 to 45 degree slopes.
  • Smooth slopes without tree cover are more dangerous.
  • Generally, avalanches occur in the same areas year after year. Watch for avalanche paths, steep open gullies and slopes, pushed over small trees, and tree with limbs broken off.
  • South facing slopes are more dangerous in the spring and on warm sunny days.
  • High marking (climbing very steep slopes) significantly increases the risk of being buried in an avalanche!


Avalanche Likelihood

  • 80 percent of all avalanches occur during and shortly after storms.
  • Snow falling at a rate of 1 inch or more per hour increases avalanche danger.
  • Storms starting with low temperatures and dry snow, followed by rising temperatures are more likely to cause avalanches (the dry snow creates a poor bond and cannot support the weight of heavy, wet snow on top.)
  • Sustained winds of 15 miles per hour or more increase the danger of an avalanche on the leeward (usually north) slope due to heavy accumulation of snow caused by wind deposition.



A pleasant outing can turn into a miserable ordeal if a winter storm catches you unprepared.  Storms can develop in less than thirty minutes.  You can be faced with a life threatening situation, even though you may only be a short distance from help.  Because of the weather, trail markers are not always visible.  Be prepared to backtrack if you lose the trail.  Always check weather forecasts before starting out.


Related Links

For current avalanche conditions, call (530) 587-2158 or visit the Sierra Avalanche Center

For the National Weather Service forecast call (775) 673-8100 or visit the National Weather Service web page for South Lake Tahoe

For Lake Tahoe weather, please visit Weather Underground