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Avalanches are massive downward and outward movements of snow and ice as well as soil and rocks Three main factors that determine whether avalanches are likely to occur are the weather the snowpack and the terrain The weather is the most important factor in determining if an avalanche will occur but the other two factors need to be taken into consideration as well Since ninety percent of all avalanches involve human subjects that trigger them they are a major threat to life McCafferty 38 Avalanches can leave death and destruction in their path and pose a great threat to the skiing industry Most ski resorts in the western part of the United States try to prevent avalanches They acquire specially trained personnel to toss grenade like explosives or shoot a bazooka like shell into the slope The gun they use to shoot these projectiles is a 105-millimeter recoilless rifle Cone 148 The explosives trigger the avalanche They fire them into the mountain early in the morning so that the risk of having an avalanche during ski hours is lowered but even though they do this it is not a definite that an avalanche could not happen By studying the mountain the avalanche patrol learns where avalanches normally occur These are called sweet spots Avalanches often follow the same tracks year after year because they get funneled into the same valleys In these areas trees do not grow because they keep being removed by the avalanches The shooting of these explosives is very successful and fortunately no one has ever been injured or killed Goodwin 42 Avalanche experts offer these recommendations for skiers to follow so they can avoid or deal with avalanches Their first rule is to know your terrain Most avalanches occur on mountainsides where the slope is thirty degrees or greater Secondly do not ski alone Only a few avalanche victims survive without help from others Another recommendation is to know what to
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