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11 Avalanche Deaths Make January Deadliest Month Since 2008

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Avalanche deaths are on the rise as more people explore backcountry recreation and El Nino dumps snow in the West.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports data from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center show the 11 deaths in January made that month the deadliest since 2008, when there were 19 avalanche deaths in the first month of the year.

February has historically been the deadliest month for avalanches.

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Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Spencer Logan says it's hard to attribute avalanche-related incidents the amount of snow alone.

Factors like heavy El Nino winter snow, unusual conditions and human error can contribute. Meanwhile, sales of winter recreation equipment indicate a growing population of backcountry winter travelers.

People can take precautions, like completing safety courses and looking up advisories by avalanche forecasters.