In April 1993, the European Avalanche Warning Services (EAWS) agreed to the use of a uniform scale with five avalanche danger ratings. Until then, countries had used different scales with varying danger ratings (e.g. 8 levels in Catalonia and France, 7 levels in Switzerland, and so on) and with differing definitions for each degree of danger.
The adoption of a uniform scale is extremely beneficial for all snow users, professional and amateur, because we can refer to the same danger ratings when we visit other countries. The United States and Canada use the North American Avalanche Danger Scale, which also includes five danger ratings and whose definitions of each level, though not an exact match, refer to the same as the European scale.
From the 2018-19 winter season, EAWS has introduced changes to the avalanche size names (see Avalanche Size Scale) and consequently these changes affect the wording of the Avalanche Danger Scale. This is the updated scale:
(*) The avalanche-prone locations are described in greater detail in the Avalanche Advisory (altitude, slope aspect, type of terrain)
(**) Additional loads:
-low: individual skier / snowboarder, riding softly, not falling; snowshoer; group with good spacing (minimum 10m) keeping distances
-high: two or more skiers / snowboarders etc. without good spacing (or without intervals); snowmachine; explosives; single hiker/climber
Natural: without human influence
The danger of each danger level: travel advices
Here we explain the significance of each danger level and how we should apply it to select the terrain where we carry out our activities.
Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terreain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.