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Avalanche deaths spike

SEATTLE (AP) — Skiers and snowboarders rejoiced when a series of storms dumped several feet of snow in the mountains across the West, after what had been a disappointing start for those seeking fresh powder in the backcountry.

But all the new snow and strong winds in the past month have fueled dangerous conditions from the Cascades to the Rockies, prompting forecasters to issue warnings of considerable or high avalanche danger for many places outside of established ski areas.

Seventeen people have died in an avalanche this winter, 11 of them since early February.

Many more skirted disaster and survived with broken bones or other injuries. Some were partially buried in snow, but managed to dig themselves out or were dug out by companions.

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