A system for prediction of avalanche hazard in the windy climate of Iceland

  • Haraldsdóttir S
  • Ólafsson H
  • Durand Y
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A system for predicting avalanche hazard in the windy climate of Vest- fir?ir, northwest Iceland, is presented.The system isbasedon (a) numerical simulations of the snowpack and evaluation of avalanche hazard due to overloading by the snow models SAFRAN^Crocus and ME¤ PRA, and (b) observations of wind speed in the mountains used as a proxy for snowdrift. The system was tested during two winter seasons and cor- rectly predicts 30 out of 35 avalanche days.The 5missing days feature either large spatial gradients in precipitation or very strong winds a few days before the avalanches, indicat- ingmuch snowdrift.Acomparison of the simulated avalanche hazard and observations of avalanches confirms that snowdrift is of primary importance not only for large avalanches, as already established, but also for small andmedium-size avalanches inVest- fir?ir. The system is a first step towards an objective evaluation of avalanche hazard in Iceland. INTRODUCTION

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  • Svanbjörg H. Haraldsdóttir

  • Haraldur Ólafsson

  • Yves Durand

  • Gerald Giraud

  • Laurent Mérindol

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