Item: Avalanche warning switzerland consequences of the avalanche winter 1999
Title: Avalanche warning switzerland consequences of the avalanche winter 1999
Proceedings: 2002 International Snow Science Workshop, Penticton, British Columbia
Authors: Jakob Rhyner, Michael Briindl, Hans-Jllig Etter, Manfred Steiniger, Drs Stockli, Thomas Stucki, Martin Zimmerli, and Walter Ammann, Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF)
Abstract: During the last few years the Swiss avalanche warning service has undergone a major development in terms of utilization of communication and information technology. The collection and compilation of meteorological and snow data as well as the broadcast of the avalanche danger information have been automatized to a large extent, making extensive use of internet technology. Besides the traditional text-based avalanche bulletins, graphical products have been introduced in order to increase attention of the younger customer segment, particularly free riders. A variety of special charts and maps (national and regional avalanche danger, snow and new snow maps) is produced and made available via internet. Additionally, compact information packages can be obtained via SMS or WAP. However, as the avalanche winter 1999 has shown, proper communication of high quality avalanche information is not sufficient for an efficient handling of avalanche crisis situations. While the warning system itself worked well in 1999, problems occurred (i) due to the non-uniform level of education and organization of avalanche security services, and (ii) due to the insufficient or sometimes missing communication between different security persons and organizations. These problems have been addressed in a joint project with the federal authorities. First, a concept for unified education of local and regional avalanche security services has been elaborated and is now being realized in an ongoing series of courses. Second, an internet-based information tool (content management system) has been developed together with an external partner. It supports the different security services (road, railway, police, ski stations, etc.) in rapid mutual information about the situation and organizational steps. The tool has undergone a successful pilot operation in the second part of the winter 20012002 in the region of Davos-Klosters.
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Keywords: avalanche bulletin, avalanche countermeasures, avalanche forecasting, avalanche warning, communication
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