For the week of February 17, 1999  thru February 23, 1999  

Avalanches wreak havoc in Hailey

Heagle Park damaged, deer herd killed

Express Staff Writer

Hooves sticking out of the snow were a grisly reminder of the force of an avalanche that swept a herd of deer to their deaths Wednesday on Della Mountain in Hailey. (Express photo by Willy Cook)

Three avalanches released from the slopes of Della Mountain in Hailey last Wednesday, spilling snow and debris across the Big Wood River.

The slides buried part of Heagle Park in snow, blocked the river briefly and left a ghastly reminder of just how powerful falling snow, even close to home, can be.

No less than 20 deer were part of the avalanche’s jetsam. On Thursday, their hooves protruded like gravestones in the snow.

It is likely that the herd of deer, traipsing through unstable snow on Della Mountain, triggered the slide that swept them over a 200-foot cliff to their deaths.

Hailey city administrator Daryle James is urging people to stay away from the avalanche area along the river in Heagle Park.

"At this point the snowpack is fairly stable," James said. "The shoots have cleared themselves."

But, he said, snow is blowing and drifting at the top of Della Mountain and could slide again.

One witness, Ken Crosson, who saw the slide that killed the deer said the herd, which numbered about 50 animals, caught his attention.

"It’s a steep face and there was a slide the night before, so I was curious," he said.

Crosson said about 20 of the deer attempted to cross the bowl, but began bumping into each other and acting nervous in the shoulder-deep snow.

"When they got about two thirds of the way across the bowl, the snow slid," Crosson said. "They all just went down. It was a free-fall to the river about 200 yards below."

Falling snow and debris reached toward neighborhoods around War Eagle Drive and Della Vista Drive. There were no reported human injuries or homes damaged.

One of the avalanches dumped about 20 feet of snow in Hailey’s Heagle Park

So far, the city of Hailey has determined that the avalanche destroyed a picnic shelter, two tables and at least one tree in the park. With all the snow, it is hard to tell the extent of the damages, James said.

The force of the snow took its toll on fish also.

"I saw one 12-inch rainbow sticking up out of the snow that had an expression that was priceless," said Ray Hyde, head of Hailey’s water and sewer department.

One of the slides dropped enough snow in the Big Wood River south of Croy Creek to dam it. City water and sewer rerouted the river down War Eagle Drive and back into an alternate channel to the river to prevent flooding in surrounding neighborhoods.


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