|Abstract from DBPedia||
An avalanche (also called a snow slide) is a rapid flow of snow down a slope, such as a hill or mountain. Avalanches can be set off spontaneously, by such factors as increased precipitation or snow pack weakening, or by external means such as humans, animals, and earthquakes. Primarily composed of flowing snow and air, large avalanches have the capability to capture and move ice, rocks, and trees. Avalanches occur in two general forms, or combinations thereof: slab avalanches made of tightly packed snow, triggered by a collapse of an underlying weak snow layer, and loose snow avalanches made of looser snow. After being set off, avalanches usually accelerate rapidly and grow in mass and volume as they capture more snow. If an avalanche moves fast enough, some of the snow may mix with the air, forming a powder snow avalanche. Though they appear to share similarities, avalanches are distinct from slush flows, mudslides, rock slides, and serac collapses. They are also different from large scale movements of ice. Avalanches can happen in any mountain range that has an enduring snowpack. They are most frequent in winter or spring, but may occur at any time of year. In mountainous areas, avalanches are among the most serious natural hazards to life and property, so great efforts are made in avalanche control. There are many classification systems for the different forms of avalanches, which vary according to their users' needs. Avalanches can be described by their size, destructive potential, initiation mechanism, composition, and dynamics.