Avalanche Warning Switzerland 2000: A new concept and its implementation

Tom Russi, W. Ammann
Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Flueelastr. 11, 7260 Davos, Switzerland.
Tel. : +41-81-417-0151, Fax: +41-81-417-0110,
E-mail: russi@slf.ch

For a mountainous country such as Switzerland an effective avalanche warning service is crucial to safeguard densely populated areas and traffic lines and to provide ski area operators, off-piste skiers and mountaineers with up-to-date information on the current snow and avalanche situation.

Three years ago, the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) which is in charge of the national and regional avalanche forecast in Switzerland, has launched a project to setup an integrated snow and avalanche information network in Switzerland. The system consists of three main modules: a) "Data Acquisition", b) "Data Processing" and c) "Information Dissemination". The task of the data acquisition module is to continuously monitor the snow and weather situation. This task is carried out by a network of about 80 human observers as well as 50 remote snow and weather stations. The remote weather stations as well as the observers are connected to the information system by computer thereby providing the national avalanche centre in Davos with a continuous stream of information. As part of the data processing task, all information available is stored in a relational database and used to drive snowpack models and hazard forecasting models. Using semi-automatic tools the avalanche forecasting team analyses the data as well as the output of the computer models to issue national and regional avalanche forecasts on a daily basis. Conventional information channels (Radio and TV stations, newspaper) as well as the WWW and a new service called InfoBOX are used in the "information dissemination module" to inform people about the avalanche risk.

This paper gives an overview of the architecture of the snow and avalanche information system and reports on the state of the implementation.