Avalanche Awareness

Although CWU Main Campus does not have an immediate risk of avalanche, many of our students, staff, and faculty enjoy outdoor recreational activities where the exposure to the hazard may occur. Many of the routes connecting Ellensburg to western portions of the state contain the avalanche hazard as well.

An avalanche is a large amount of snow moving quickly down the slope of a mountain at speeds of 60-80 MPH. They can be caused by people, new snow, and wind during the peak seasons of December through March. People caught beneath heavy snow from an avalanche may not be able to dig out and suffer trauma, hypothermia, or die from suffocation. The western portion of Kittitas County and in winter recreation areas is at risk of the avalanche hazard. An average of 28 people die in avalanches every winter in the United States.

How to stay safe when an avalanche threatens:

  • Prepare now
    • Know the risk of avalanches in your area
    • Learn the signs of an avalanche
    • Take first aid training
    • Follow avalanche warnings on roads
    • Know the signs of increased Danger
    • Avoid areas of increased risk, such as slopes steeper than 30 degrees
  • Survival during
    • Wear a helmet during activities to reduce head injuries
    • If possible, use an avalanche airbag
    • Carry a collapsible avalanche probe
    • If your partner or others are buried call 9-1-1 then begin to search
    • Treat others for suffocation, hypothermia, traumatic injury or shock.

For more information please visit the U.S Forest Service.