Leave it to the Swiss to develop the next best thing after the army knife; now they have an early avalanche detection system that will reduce the time between avalanche threat and road closures. The system is being tested in Zermatt, a popular tourist destination in Switzerland. The access road to Zermatt is passes through multiple known avalanche flow paths and usually this terrain has to be manually mitigated through the use of bombs.
This new system uses similar technology to radars that detect the speed of a moving car, however in this application, the radar is able to detect the avalanching snow and divide it into different zones based on threat and which actions should be taken by the city. If the avalanche reaches the lower zone, workers are able to close the control gates on the access road instantly and from their office. This is in hopes that these critical moments between the avalanche triggering and reaching the road to allow maximum time for traffic to clear the area.
Reasons why this is exciting:
- It will save lives
- Avalanche awareness and knowledge will increase
- This technology will soon be world-wide
- Mountain towns will be safer
- Scientists will be able to refine this system and be inspired to create even more intricate avalanche detection systems
If this system proves to be successful in Zermatt, it won’t be long until we see this elsewhere in the world. In the technology age, it is great to see someone working on a re-application of a known tool (radar) to where it can be highly useful and save lives by catching speeding snow instead of speeding cars!