The five types of avalanche problems as defined by the European Avalanche Warning Services EAWS aim to describe the typical situations of snow instability encountered in avalanche terrain. They support avalanche professionals and recreationists in their evaluation of the avalanche hazard by emphasizing the cause of instability. They complement the danger level and the danger locations (slope aspect and elevation) and represent the third highest level in the information pyramid.
The following definitions include a general characterization of the problems including:
- expected avalanche types and triggers,
- a description of the typical spatial distribution and the position of the weak layer in the snowpack,
- a characterization of the release mechanism,
- a description of typical durations and periods of the problem,
- and finally, travel advice for recreationists.
The focus thereby is on providing information for recreationists traveling in avalanche terrain. However, the typical avalanche problems may also be useful for avalanche safety services.