Analysis Monday – Avalanche

Each Monday we will be looking at a short extract from a text and analysing what and how the written has written.

Feel free to add your own comments/analysis below!


The very thing the 16 skiers and snowboarders had sought — fresh, soft snow — instantly became the enemy. Somewhere above, a pristine meadow cracked in the shape of a lightning bolt, slicing a slab nearly 200 feet across and 3 feet deep. Gravity did the rest.

Snow shattered and spilled down the slope. Within seconds, the avalanche was the size of more than a thousand cars barreling down the mountain and weighed millions of pounds. Moving about 70 miles per hour, it crashed through the sturdy old-growth trees, snapping their limbs and shredding bark from their trunks.

John Branch

– The use of parenthesis is a simple one – to add additional information about the skiers wanted. The use of “fresh” and “soft” emphasis the innocent nature of this snow, it is harmless and pleasant, until it isn’t and becomes dangerous.

– The dangerous nature of this snow is summed up perfectly by the use of the word “enemy”

– The writer layers up details about how large the avalanche is. He uses facts (200 feet across), comparisons (more than a thousand cars) and  huge numbers (millions) to emphasise and keep emphasising just how big, and dangerous, this avalanche is. 

– Beautiful imagery here – we can picture the shape of the crack but it also highlights the danger – just a lightening bolt can be harmful so to can this avalanche.

– In the same way that the writer layers up details about the size of the avalanche he consistently uses words with connotations of damage and danger. They also hint at the idea of speed (Crashed/slice/cracked) – so the idea that this is something that happened quickly and without warning.

– The writer also uses comparison to explain the extent and power of the avalanche. He calls the trees sturdy and old, emphasises how strong and secure these trees were, but he then explains that the avalanche slices and shreds these trees – destroying them easily.


To read the article in full :



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