They're a phenomenon most people associate with winter, but two avalanches occurred near Seattle, Washington yesterday. The spring avalanches took place on two separate mountains, and initially three people were reported missing.
One avalanche happened at Granite Mountain, and the other was on Red Mountain, which is near the Alpental ski area off I-90.
Both came down while heavy snow was falling in the Cascade Mountains, due to a weather system that moved in from the Gulf of Alaska.
The Granite mountain avalanche hit three snowshoers and swept them over 1200 feet. Sgt. Katie Larson of the King's County Sheriff's Office described their account and told KOMO news, "One of the climbers tells me that they had no warning. The avalanche, at this point, from what he's describing, is 30 feet wide, eight feet deep and about a quarter-mile long."
Two of the men were able to escape from under the snow, but as of this morning, one hiker, a 60-year-old man, is still unaccounted for.
A woman walking her dog and a party of 13 other snowshoers were in the path of the Red Mountain avalanche. The woman wound up being dug out from under six feet of snow. A member of the other group of hikers, Chris Soun, was reported missing by friends, but they eventually found him and buried by a tree and were able to rescue him.
He admits, "I thought I was dying...I couldn't see anything," so you can only imagine his state of relief when members of his party were able to locate him under the snow.
The last thing anyone expects to happen while out for a leisurely snowshoeing hike is to be hit by fast-moving snow out of nowhere. Avalanches are one of those things you never dream you'll actually have to face, so we can only imagine how terrified everyone involved must have been when they hit yesterday.
And we can only hope and pray that by some miracle, the man who is still unaccounted for will be found alive.
You can hear more about the avalanches in this video report from KOMO news.
Have you ever witnessed an avalanche?
Image via KOMO-TV