FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Its been a deadly avalanche season in the western U.S.
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, 36 people have died in avalanches since December 18.
It ties the highest number of deaths in any season since 1950.
Only two other seasons have seen as many avalanche deaths, 2007-2008 and 2009-2010.
This year was so deadly because of a weak layer of snowpack buried under more recent snowfall.
The weak layer was created by an early snowfall followed by a dry spell.
Any movement can cause this weak layer to fail, sending snow flying down a slope.
That's the avalanche that can carry and bury anything in its path.
This season was so unusual because this weak layer was common across the west.
Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Idaho all reported having the weak layer.
In Colorado, 12 skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, and hikers were killed.
That ties a state record.
DENVER -- Backcountry skiers: avalanche conditions are unfortunately still unsafe in the region. The 12th Colorado avalanche death of the season occurred yesterday, outside of the boundary of Beaver Creek Resort. More snow tonight and tomorrow adding to instability. #cowx pic.twitter.com/QGhLddCPow
— Brooks Garner (@BrooksWeather) March 23, 2021
The National Avalanche Center maps the avalanche risk.
In February, the whole map was either orange or red.
Orange means that there is considerable danger for an avalanche to occur.
Red means high risk.
The first death occurred right before Christmas, when a snowmobiler triggered an avalanche in Wyoming.
The most recent death happened when a skier was killed in Alaska on March 27.
The deadliest day was on February 6.
That's when four people died after being buried in the snow in Utah.