Laurie Johnson

Avalanche Safety

snowy moutain

The ski season at Lake Tahoe is in full swing. Palisades Tahoe currently has 45-120” of snow with 95% of their lifts and runs open. Northstar has 84” of packed powder with 94% of their lifts and runs operating. Boreal and Sugarbowl both have over 138 inches of snow!

The snowpack across the Lake Tahoe basin is currently at 56% of normal for this time of year. After January’s extremely cold storm, the lighter snow was blown around creating avalanches in the region. We’ve had a few more storms, but they have been wetter, mitigating avalanche danger.

Last weekend, we had alot of snow and during the last week of February, forecasters are calling for a much colder storm, similar to the one in January.

Avalanche Safety

Being avalanche aware is important when colder storms follow warmer ones. Any skiers and riders who venture into the backcountry should carry an airbag backpack, probe poles, shovel and beacon. REI has a list of avalanche preparedness tools here.

An avalanche can occur after heavy snowstorms, when the wind blows from one side of the slope of mountain to another side. If ice has formed beneath this new snow, it can make it easier for new snow to slide around.

Additionally, the pitch of a mountain can determine avalanche risk. Generally slopes with a 45 degree or more angle can pose a greater risk of an avalanche. connects the public to formal avalanche information and education in the United States. is a partnership between the American Avalanche Association (A3) and the US Forest Service National Avalanche Center (NAC).

Their website provides many interactive courses to help you minimize any potential risk. You can view a map of current avalanche conditions here.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare when venturing into a snowy and mountainous terrain:


The most important thing you can do is know what Take an avalanche safety course to learn about the fundamentals of avalanches, snowpack, and terrain assessment. Be sure to check the forecast to see whether avalanche danger is present. Currently, Lake Tahoe is highlighted at moderate risk.

Travel in Groups

Skiing and riding alone is never a good idea. Keep track of group members and use communication devices if cell phone service is limited.

Terrain Awareness:

Understand the terrain you are navigating and recognize potential avalanche zones. Avoid slopes with a steep angle, convex shapes, or areas with recent avalanche activity. Travel one at a time through avalanche-prone areas to minimize risk.

Weather Conditions:

Be aware of current and forecasted weather conditions, as they can significantly impact avalanche risk. Rapid changes in temperature, snowfall, or wind can increase the likelihood of avalanches.

Know Your Limits:

Avoid pushing your limits in unfamiliar or high-risk terrain. If in doubt, choose safer routes and terrain.

Remember that avalanche safety is a dynamic process, and conditions can change rapidly. Always exercise caution, stay informed, and prioritize safety when in avalanche-prone areas.

Hoping you have a wonderful time on the mountains this winter by taking precautions and staying safe.

Contact me today for information about available homes for sale in Lake Tahoe and Truckee or for a free marketing analysis of your home.



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