Aerial view of an avalanche in Eisenerz, Austria
Aerial view of an avalanche in the town of Eisenerz in Austria’s Styria province February 25, 2009. No injuries were reported. REUTERS/www.fotoflieger.at. Image may be subject to copyright.
Avalanches, rapid flows of snow down mountain slopes, result from either natural triggers or human activity. Avalanches can mix air and water with the descending snow. Powerful avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other material on the slope; however avalanches are always initiated in snow, are primarily composed of flowing snow, and are distinct from mudslides, rock slides, rock avalanches, and serac collapses from an icefall. In mountainous terrain avalanches are among the most serious objective hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry an enormous mass of snow rapidly over large distances. —Wikipedia.