The present mortality as a result of snow avalanches exceeds the average mortality caused by earthquakes as well as all other forms of slope failure combined. Snow avalanches can range from small amounts of loose snow moving rapidly down a slope to slab avalanches, in which large chunks of snow break off and destroy everything in their path. Although considered a hazard in the United States since the westward expansion in the nineteenth century, in modern times snow avalanches are an increasing concern in recreational mountainous areas. However, programs for snow avalanche hazard mitigation in other countries are far ahead of those in the United States.
The book identifies several steps that should be taken by the United States in order to establish guidelines for research, technology transfer, and avalanche legislation and zoning.