City and Borough of Juneau
A snow avalanche is a swift, downhill-moving snow mass. The amount of damage is related to the size of the slide, type of avalanche, the composition and consistency of the material in the avalanche, the force and velocity of the flow, and the avalanche path. Avalanches usually occur on steep slopes, usually 35 to 60 degrees. Avalanches can occur outside the optimum slope angle range, but are not as common.
Avalanches take more lives nationwide than any other natural disaster event. Most avalanche deaths result from snow sport activities such as skiing, snowboarding, adn snowmobiling. It is common for the victim to trigger the fatal avalanche. Avalanches tend to occur repeatedly in localized areas and can shear trees, cover communities and transportation routes with packed snow and debris, destroy buildings, and cause severe personal injury or death.
Avalanches in Juneau have received much attention in recent years. Steep slopes, heavy, wet snow, and relatively warm temperatures combine every year to create conditions that are conducive to avalanches, especially from January to March. In the past 100 years, more than 70 buildings near downtown Juneau have been struck by avalanches. Large avalanche paths surround the city, especially near the Behrends and White subdivisions, and along Thane Road.
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