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Montana State University Research - Searching for the Human Factor in Deadly Avalanches

December 30, 2016View for printing

Every year, about 30 Americans die in avalanches, with an additional 110 deaths in Canada and Europe. Skiers and snowmobilers account for the vast majority of these deaths.

Jordy Hendrikx has lost friends and a student to such disasters. An earth sciences professor and director of the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory at Montana State University, Dr. Hendrikx studied the geophysics of snow for a decade before he decided that, to prevent avalanche accidents, human behavior in the backcountry needed to be better understood.

Scientists have a good grasp on how weather and terrain contribute to avalanches. Research suggests avalanche forecasts have about an 80 percent accuracy rate. But human activity is a huge -- and unpredictable -- factor in avalanches.

Full Story: ... times-story
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