A new concept for avalanche warning in Switzerland
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During the past 60 years the Swiss Federal Institut for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), which is in charge of the avalanche warning in Switzerland issued national avalanche bulletins three to four times a week at around 9 a.m. Due to technical reasons, these bulletins could not be compiled earlier and only contained information on the current snow, weather and avalanche hazard conditions i.e. they did not contain any forecast. Especially for ski-mountaineers, off-pisté skiers or climbers the bulletins were issued too late. Progress in meteorology, snow and avalanche research as well as new developments in sensor, communication and information technology make it now possible to continuously gather and process information about the snow and weather situation and to assess the avalanche hazard risk more accurately. Therefore, the SLF has started a number of projects to improve the avalanche service in Switzerland over the next few years. For the winter 97/98 the SLF has already introduced a number of new features. Firstly, the avalanche bulletin is now being issued daily at 5 p.m. and contains a forecast for the following day as well as an outlook for the nex few days. Secondly, the SLF introduced regional avalanche bulletins, covering' areas of about 1000 - 5000 km2. The regional bulletinst are issued daily at 7 a.m. and give more detailed information than the national forecast. Thirdly, the SLF is setting up a network of remote snow and weather stations which are connected to a snow and avalanche information system linking up local, regional and the national avalanche centres. The infornation system allows to access and exchange information between all the people who are involved in avalanche safety in Switzerland.