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Sierra Resorts Take Avalanche Precautions As New Snow Falls

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South Lake Tahoe (CBS13) – Storm after storm has put the Sierra in a high avalanche risk. Already this week, two have been deadly.

When the snow is this thick and there’s more on the way, they’re bound to be problems in or out of bounds. It’s one of the snowiest Decembers at Northstar Ski Resort during one of their busiest weeks.

This much snow between Christmas and New Year’s means resorts are rejoicing.

But the potential for avalanches goes up as the snow pack does. Two avalanches on Christmas Eve killed two people at Sierra ski resorts.

Ski patroller Vince Arthur was up before the sun, trying to create controlled avalanches to prevent the real thing from happening.

“If we don’t control then the avalanche is just going to get bigger,” said Arthur.

They use explosives Heavenly Mountain Resort to blast the unstable snow at the mountain tops. It’s a controlled, proactive avalanche to settle snow for skiers.

It’s this same technique that took a longtime patroller’s life at Alpine Ski Resort Monday, but normally these controlled blasts are the key to skier safety.

“Always stay in visual contact, have a plan,” said Arthur.

A beacon is one of the most important life saving tools when you go skiing. If you get caught in an avalanche, it helps patrollers find people more easily.

The closer a patroller gets to a victim who’s buried by snow, the faster the beacon beeps. If there’s no beacon, the next way to search is with poles. It’s a long, tedious, and often deadly process of poking and prodding every foot of snow.

This sure is Tahoe at finest; the back country and resorts can all provide that rush and those breathtaking views when it’s done right.

Northstar says it got 85 inches of new snow since Friday, making this one of the top three snowiest holiday weeks on record.

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