Experiments

Can Yodeling Trigger An Avalanche?

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Snow Special."
John Terence Turner/Getty Images

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: There's sensible scientific logic behind the idea of a yodel-induced avalanche. After all, sound waves can shatter glass, so it isn't a far stretch to think that they could shake up some crystallized water as well.

But actually making the snowy hills come alive with the sound of a yodel proves that reasoning doesn't ring true in this case.

Conditions are ripe for an avalanche when a tightly compacted layer of snow falls on top of a weakly packed one. All it takes is a vibration striking the right frequency to agitate that looser snow and shed the top sheet in a dangerous, icy cascade. Snow safety teams use explosives to create these vibrations when they jumpstart avalanches to ensure that they don't happen when people are on vulnerable slopes.

Regrettably, those snow teams couldn't ditch the dynamite and yodel their way to an avalanche instead. Even when projected at the decibel strength of a police bullhorn, the tone and frequency of yodeling can't trigger snow to shiver and quake. In fact, the Utah Avalanche Center reports that sonic booms or low-flying airplanes wouldn't be powerful enough to incite an avalanche, either.

So not to worry: Even if your ski buddy has a mean set of pipes on him, you should be safe.

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