One positive result of the lack of snowfall in the west this winter was a dramatic reduction in the number of avalanche deaths. The total avalanche fatalities this season, 14, is less than half of the 15 year average of 39.8 deaths per season.
According to Avalanche.org, there was not a single avalanche death recorded this winter in California, Wyoming, Oregon or Washington.
The reduction in avalanche deaths is surely largely due to the limited snowfall the west received this season. What is unclear is how big an impact new avalanche safety gear played in the sharp decline. It is impossible to say how many lives were saved this winter due to the wider use of avalanche airbags but our gut feeling is that the 2014 – 2015 avalanche fatalities number would be greater if not for this relatively new piece of technology.
[Image by Ivan Chudakov via Shutterstock]