Breaking News
More () »

'I've never seen so many avalanches in such a short time': The impact of 'extreme' avalanche danger

On Tuesday, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center said the danger was 'extreme' for parts of their forecast area.

IDAHO, USA — Avalanche danger continues to be top of mind for some of our mountain communities. Even though the skies cleared and the snow stopped, risk is still there.

Heavy wet snow falling on a powdery layer of snow set the stage for some dangerous avalanche conditions. On Tuesday, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center said danger was 'extreme' for part of their forecast area. To better understand what that actually means for people living where these conditions are present, I talked to Alan Rickers. Rickers said he's lived in the Hailey area for about 50 years.

Sophia - "When the Sawtooth Avalanche Center says the danger is 'extreme' what does that typically mean for you? Are there things that you know you can't do?"

Rickers - "Take more care in the backcountry. I ski a lot, and we ski side country on the mountain. And those are times that I don't go. There are certain lines of skiing that I frequent that I won't go to. You definitely want to be thinking right when you're out there, and making good decisions. Certainly walking along the river below the mountains through Hailey, every bit of that slid, so it's certainly a place that you wouldn't be going right now."

Sophia - "Let's say you're driving to the store, do you take a different route to avoid the edges of the valley? Or are day to day activities fine?"

Rickers - "Everyday stuff is pretty much fine. I think if you live down by the river, I'd be concerned because the avalanches are coming down and crossing the river and blocking it. When they break free, there's neighborhoods getting flooded. There's some known areas around the valley that flood regularly when the river comes up, and I know they've had some flooding issues.

Sophia - "So from your house, were you hearing slides at all when activity was picking up?"

Rickers - "I didn't hear any slides. But, when I walk out my yard, I can see the mountains around me and I can see the avalanches up Della mountain from my house. They slide regularly, but every bit of it slid in this last avalanche cycle."

"I've never seen so many avalanches on everything in such a short time. It was quite a spectacle. I've been here for 50 years and never seen conditions like this. It's quite a display of nature right now."

It's not only the snow on the slopes that people need to look out for.

Rickers - "I love getting snow and I don't mind getting snow. And I don't mind shoveling snow. But, I'm getting tired of moving snow. I've been working on my roof. We've got ice dams. 

Last night, I was working on some ice dams, and my roof started to avalanche. And I almost got knocked off my roof last night. And a little surprising, which was just an indicator of how, how unstable everything is everywhere right now. 

I was kind of surprised that a 10 foot chunk of snow above me sliding towards me to the edge of the roof. And it stopped and looked at it and said, "Well, I'm glad that I didn't go with it."

In the 50 years that I've been here, I've never seen anything like it. And you know, a lot of my local friends, they all feel the same way."

Conditions have improved since Tuesday, but the danger is still "high" in the Sawtooth and Western Smoky Mountains, and for Galena Summit. In the Soldier and Wood River Valley Mountains, danger is "considerable."

While this is an improvement in conditions, it doesn't mean that the backcountry is safe.

As a reminder, a snowmobiler died in an avalanche on Sunday in Stanley. At the time, conditions were rated "considerable."

A couple tips for staying safe are staying away from steep slopes and avoiding the backcountry.

Watch more Local News:

See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out