The avalanche situation in Neskaupstadur, Iceland : A preliminary defensive plan
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The avalanche situation in the town of Neskaupstaôur is rather unique and in many respects more difficult than in any other place in Iceland. The avalanche risk is high in a large portion of the 2,7 km long residential area, with similar snow accumulation conditions throughout the entire area. Additionally, conditions for the construction of avalanche defences are rather difficult. The avalanche starting zones are extensive and many of these have difficult geological conditions. The uppermost houses are located close to the mountain, with limited space to construct avalanche defences above them, especially in the western part of the town. After the avalanche accidents in Súàavík and Flateyri in 1995 the Icelandic government has set a long term goal for the acceptable risk to people living in avalanche prone areas. To fulfil this goal, a risk analysis has to be made in connection with avalanche defence planning. The risk analysis for Neskaupstaôur indicates that the risk level is far above the acceptable limits in certain parts of the town. To improve the situation, a preliminary protection plan has been set up for the whole town. The plan is based on a combination of supporting structures, deflecting dams, catching dams and breaking mounds.