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The “5 Red Flags”: WIND

The “5 Red Flags” is a system for detecting increased avalanche danger in the terrain that consists of 5 warning signs and is particularly popular in North America. Each of these warning signs points to a specific avalanche problem and proves existence in the field. The individual warning signs do not exclude each other and can overlap depending on the situation. Basically, these warning signs confirm the avalanche problems described in the avalanche report. These can also be present if no warning signs are detected in the terrain. Therefore, if a warning sign is recognized in the terrain, it only serves as a confirmation. If no warning signs can be seen, this does not necessarily mean that the avalanche problem indicated is not present – in most cases, the warning signs are simply overlooked.

In this episode - WIND: “The wind is the master builder of avalanches” – The wind displaces the falling or already fallen snow and creates drifted snow, which tends to break due to its higher strength. Cornices, wind vanes on ridges & peaks, as well as wind tangles on the snow surface are easily to recognize signs of strong wind. Drifted snow can develop very quickly and a drifted snow problem usually persists until a few days after the last wind impact. Danger areas are usually in depressions & gullies, behind terrain edges, and in wind calmed areas. Since drifted snow is usually easy to see, it can be bypassed fairly easily by winter sports enthusiasts. Drifting snow accumulations, as well as the transitions from much to little or soft to hard snow should be avoided.

Rider: Nico Metz


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