Nightly News   |  February 15, 2014

Avalanches Claim Six Lives Across Western U.S.

An over-abundance of snow causes deadly avalanches in Oregon, Utah and Colorado.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now in sochi, and we turn to the devastating effect of what has been an over-abundance of snow in the mountains in the western u.s. avalanches, just in the past week a series of avalanches in oregon, utah and colorado have claimed at least six lives. nbc's ron allen has more on the continuing danger.

>> reporter: in colorado 's back country, without warning an avalanche obliterated snow mobiler cody strong, his camera capturing the final moments.

>> i was just flying through the air. it happened so fast.

>> reporter: snow, some four feet deep pushed him more than 30 yards down the mountain. miraculously he and his friends dug themselves out uninjured.

>> like where i was that particular time was not very smart of me.

>> reporter: this week alone, at least six people died in avalanches in three western states . that is 12 deaths so far this winter. when kevin kibus, 46, an experienced skier got trapped by an avalanche it took rescuers hours to find his body.

>> i don't think any of us gave up hope until we heard the final news.

>> reporter: this snow and ice blocked off valdez, population 4,000, the officials are urging voluntarily evacuations. in colorado , they use trigger slides to prevent avalanches, forecasters saying it has been the worst in years, the problem, big storm systems overloading the snowpack, creating the snow accumulations twice the normal average in some areas and more coming.

>> that is our fear right now. there is just another storm, another storm and another storm out there on the horizon.

>> reporter: experts strongly advise using safety equipment like the air bag in this video keeping the skier on top of the sliding snow. next time, strong says he will be much more cautious. you must be grateful that this was not a lot worse.

>> we're pretty lucky.

>> reporter: avalanche warnings remain in place out in the wilderness all across the west. ron allen , nbc news, los angeles .