This season Zermatt has been using a special radar to detect and predict avalanches, allowing them to close the access road to the resort within seconds of a risk being detected.
‘It just keeps snowing…’
Matterhorn Chalet’s owner Ed Mannix pointed out that in Zermatt this season ‘It just keeps on snowing’, so avalanche control has been even more important than in other years.
‘In Zermatt,’ Mannix said, ‘they don’t take many chances because of the steep topography of the valley. Many of the ski runs and the walking paths are potentially dangerous, particularly on the west side of the valley.’
Radar used to detect avalanches
With the recent heavy snow falls, the piste service has been busy releasing avalanches with explosives. This are delivered from helicopters and are designed to move unstable snow layers.
However, while use of explosives is still important, a new radar system is an example of one of the impressive technologies introduced by the local Valais canton.
Road can be closed automatically
High above the entry to the town, at 1800m, a new avalanche warning system has been installed – the first of its kind in the world. It uses radar technology to monitor the start of avalanches up to a height of around 2400m.
The system has been described by its inventors at Geopravent as ‘similar to the system that is used to track speeding cars’. It is designed to detect an avalanche as soon as it begins as there is only a limited amount of time to close the road below.
If an avalanche is detected the road is immediately closed automatically. Once any threat has been evaluated, the road can be opened again direct from the avalanche safety office.
Keeping residents and holidaymakers safe
This video explains more about the new approach taken by our favourite Swiss resort to keep resident and holiday-makers safe.
If you’d like to visit this wonderful resort than just contact Matterhorn Chalets for details of accommodation in Zermatt.
Article by Iain Martin