Avalanche protection systems are designed on a site-to-site basis to protect infrastructure, utilities, buildings, reforestation, and lives from avalanches. Unlike other mitigation methods such as control through triggering with explosives, these static defence structures help to prevent snow avalanches from starting in their first stage of occurrence.

In avalanche protection, three areas of avalanche-prone slopes are identified during the assessment of risk:

  • Initiation zone: area where the avalanche develops and releases
  • Avalanche track: path of movement of the avalanche from the starting point to the area of deposition
  • Elements at risk: e.g. infrastructure buildings, buildings, ski resorts

Snow nets, snow rakes and steel snow bridges are installed in the initiation zones to prevent avalanches from forming. In addition to these static defense structures, snow catchment fences, such as the SNOWCATCHER have been used in recent years, which effectively reduces the run-out length of an avalanche. Such systems are often more cost

effective for protecting linear infrastructure, buildings, tourist areas and infrastructure, where large initiation zones maybe too costly to appropriately mitigate.

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