Avalanche Accident Statistics

Over the last 10 winters in the United States an average of 25 people died in avalanches every year. Every fatal accident is investigated and reported, so those numbers can be reported with some certainty. There is no way to determine the number of people caught or buried in avalanches each year, because non-fatal avalanche incidents are increasingly under reported. The average yearly property loss was $31,200, though property loss varied greatly from year to year.

Please spread the word that all accidents should be documented and reported to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. You can submit information here or use the short avalanche accident reporting form in the Snow, Weather, and Avalanche: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States.

The data used to construct the following graphs is from the CAIC Accident Database. The Database began with the Westwide Data Network in the 1970s. Through the efforts of Dale Atkins, Knox Williams, Betsy Armstrong and others, the Database contains records for over 900 fatalities and over 2700 accidents since 1950. The records have become increasingly biased to fatal avalanches over the last 15 years. Fewer and fewer non-fatal accidents are being reported to avalanche centers and fully documented in the database. The absence of nonfatal data significantly affects the accident statistics, skewing the statistics against survival. Keep this bias in mind when interpreting the data.

Statistical Graphs

These graphs can be used for avalanche education and awareness. Please cite the CAIC.

* There are too many gaps in the dataset since 2006-07 to re-calculate these statistics.

SPREADSHEETS AND STATISTICS FOR 2011-12: Accident Stats Slides