TODAY   |  December 29, 2013

Avalanche danger heightened across West

The avalanche danger has been high across much of the Western United States, after new layers of heavy snow have become layered over weaker, older snow. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

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>> weather across the country. now here is a peek out your window.

>>> dylan, thanks very much. people across the country are enjoying some of the weather, hitting the slopes, getting in skiing during this holiday week, but there is a danger out there as recent snowstorms created a ripe environment for avalanches that in the past few days have turned deadly. here is nbc's joe fryer.

>> reporter: it's the danger that comes not when the snow falls, but when the snow slides. in recent days the avalanche danger has been high across much of the western united states , after new snow stacked atop old snow. that's a perfect recipe for human triggered avalanches in the back country.

>> reporter: two were killed on friday including 29-year-old mika san gentlemen skiing out of bounds near jackson hole , wyoming. in colorado a skier was rescued after everything but his pole was buried. in utah three skiers were freed when they were swept up by a rare slide inside the boundaries of a ski resort . then there was this. edwin lemaire triggered a colorado after land v that carried him 800 feet before burying his body.

>> my chest was skom pressed by all the snow compacting around me. i was struggling to breathe a little bit and got panic and screamed out for help.

>> his brother dug him out.

>> you must feel very grateful?

>> i'm extremely thankful that everything turned out the way it did and i didn't sustain any worse injuries or die.

>> reporter: he was carrying lifesaving equipment, a shovel, beacon and a probe all recommended by experts so others can find someone buried in the snow.

>> avalanche debris kets up like concrete in just a second or two. out can't dig yourself out.

>> reporter: but if you're found, hopefully someone else can. for "today," joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles .