Scotland Avalanche Buries Three, Kills Two

February 14, 2013; 9:25 PM ET
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This photograph of snow in central Scotland is courtesy of Twitter user Mark Vogan.

Three people climbing in the Chalamain Gap area of the Ciarngorms in the Highlands of Scotland were buried Thursday afternoon by an avalanche.

A call came in at about 12:30 p.m. local time, and mountain rescue teams, police, search and rescue dogs and a Royal Air Force helicopter all began looking for the climbers. The three climbers were buried in snow when they were found.

The climbers were transported by helicopter to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. One man and one woman were killed and the third climber is in critical condition, according to the BBC.

There were 12 climbers in the group. The other nine were unhurt and able to walk off the mountain.

The Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service issued avalanche warnings for possible avalanches overnight on Thursday and a high risk during the day.

"The Scottish cities of Glasgow and Aberdeen had an inch or two of snowfall, which later melted," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

When the upper layers of a snowpack begin to melt it can trigger an avalanche. The top layer will become heavier than underlying snow and this increases the possibility of the top snow layer sliding off of the more stable bottom layers.

A sheet of ice can form between the snow layers, making the snowpack even more unstable.

Climbers should always check with their local weather stations before heading onto the slopes.


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