Item: Advanced technologies in avalanche programs
Title: Advanced technologies in avalanche programs
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2006 International Snow Science Workshop, Telluride, Colorado
Authors: David Hamre, Alaska Railroad Corp., Anchorage AK.
Abstract: Between 1985 and 2000, the Alaska Railroad operated a conventional avalanche risk mitigation program which relied heavily on artillery based risk mitigation and observer-based forecasting. In spite of these methods, occasional close calls continued that spoke of the need to augment the existing system with more advanced technologies. The winter of 2000 brought unusually large storm events, during which unforeseen events occurred with catastrophic results. This proved to be the impetus for the investment of almost $3,000,000 in more advanced systems for avalanche risk mitigation. New systems for gathering and dissemination of weather parameters, deployment of explosives, management of data, and avalanche detection were deployed in the field. This paper describes the underlying problems with avalanche risk mitigation in the railroad corridor, and discusses the rationale behind introducing different kinds of technologies to solve issues. Also discussed are the pros and cons of different technologies and the lessons learned from applying advanced technologies to an existing program. Budgetary considerations are also provided.
Keywords: avalanche, avalanche guard, detection, risk, mitigation, data management
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