To view current Avalanche advisories, visit the Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) page here. If you are headed to the backcountry area, please follow the safety guidance from SAC before and during your trip. 

Hazard Description

Earth on Nautilus: How a Snowflake Turns Into an Avalanche

Avalanches are complex natural phenomena involving the interaction of weather, terrain, and mountain snowpack. Slab avalanches are the most destructive type of avalanche. They occur when a weak layer or interface allows cohesive, overlying layers of snow to break loose and slide down a steep slope. As gravity causes the original slab to accelerate, additional snow is entrained below, causing the avalanche to gain mass. The vast majority of avalanches occur during or immediately following winter storms between December and March. The slopes of the Carson Range in Washoe County contain extensive avalanche terrain. Washoe County focuses on two avalanche-prone areas: Crystal Bay, Nevada, and Third Creek in Incline Village, Nevada. Both areas are in the northern Tahoe basin.



Mountain communities in the Lake Tahoe Basin, including Incline Village and Crystal Bay, are vulnerable to the effects of avalanches. When avalanche conditions are present, risks are highest for recreational users and others in backcountry areas who may trigger avalanches or be injured or killed by an avalanche. In addition to injuries and deaths, avalanches can damage or destroy property and utilities and place roadways and motorists in danger. Transportation disruptions caused by avalanches or area closures due to avalanche risks can have economic impacts on ski resorts and other businesses in the Lake Tahoe Basin over days to a week or more. 



Ensure you have proper equipment and education before accessing backcountry areas. Familiarize yourself with Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) forecasts. The information provided by SAC is intended as a regional avalanche danger forecast for the avalanche terrain in the Tahoe Basin. SAC utilizes the North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale. This scale rates avalanche danger and provides general advice based on the likelihood, size, and distribution of expected avalanches.  

North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale

Sign-up for Alerts

Citizens can register for reverse telephone notification, called Code Red, as well as other notifications concerning alerts. To sign up, click on the “ Regional Notification” link on the menu and follow the instructions.