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Three Skiers Dead In Washington Avalanche

Authorities said three men have died in an avalanche in an out-of-bounds area near a popular Washington state ski area. Other skiers who had been reported missing were accounted for on Sunday.

Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff's Office confirmed to msnbc.com the deaths of three people. The skiers were believed to be in their 30s and 40s, experienced and well-prepared.

Other skiers in the group managed to dig out the men and performed CPR, to no avail.

According to King5.com, one skier, a woman, was wearing a device used to provide air if swept up in an avalanche. She survived.

West said the slide occurred in an out-of-bounds area near Stevens Pass ski resort in the Cascade Mountains, about 13.2 miles east of the town of Skykomish.

In a separate incident in the Cascades on Sunday, a snowboarder died after plunging off a cliff, West said. According to the Seattle Times, the snowboarder, age 41, triggered an avalanche that pushed him over a cliff.

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center on Sunday issued a warning for high avalanche danger for areas above 5,000 feet. The elevation of the avalanche wasn't immediately clear.

At mid-afternoon, the temperate at the base of the ski resort was 24 degrees, with light winds and good visibility. The temperature at the top of the mountain was 22 degrees, according to the resort's website.

The site also said Sunday was a "popular powder day" at the resort, with 14 inches of fresh snow falling overnight.

Stevens Pass, an 80-mile drive from Seattle, is among the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the state. People flock there to go cross-country, back-country and downhill skiing, as well as snowshoeing and backpacking.

It's been a deadly winter in Washington state's mountains. Four people disappeared in vicious storms while hiking and climbing on Mount Rainier last month.

Across the West, there had been 13 avalanche deaths this season as of Feb. 16, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks avalanche deaths in the U.S.

Avalanche deaths are more common in the backcountry than at ski resorts. Out of about 900 avalanche deaths nationwide since the 1950-1951 winter, 32 were within terrain that was open for riding at ski resorts, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.


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