snow fencing

Measures to mitigate against avalanches

The inhabitants of mountainous areas in snow zones have always been affected by the risk of avalanches. The need to live alongside this threat has led to attempts to mitigate the risk by constructing intricate systems of artificial structures.

The increasing risk of avalanches. Deforestation and the development of tourist infrastructure in these regions have resulted in a reduction of the natural barriers and consequently, the triggering of snow avalanches. Also, the changing use of these regions requires an increase in safety requirements, to protect ski resorts, residential areas, roads and railway lines.

Our snow nets and snow fences considerably reduce the risk of avalanches.

Reducing the risk of avalanche by stopping it at source

Our snow fences and snow nets are designed to stabilise the layer of snow at the potential avalanche initiation zone, thereby preventing triggering of the avalanche. The snow-pack exerts a force, which must be absorbed by the nets and transmitted to the ground by means of a system of snow fence posts and anchors.

The flexibility of our snow fence system results in a reduction of the loads exerted on the structure, enabling a more efficient installation. The applied loads depend on the slope angle, the thickness of the layer of snow, the environmental conditions and the exposure of the slope itself.

The potential need for multiple lines of defence. The snow fence or snow net must be positioned in the area of the potential detachment of snow. It may be necessary to install various rows of structures, on the upslope and downslope sides of a potential failure point. This limits the propagation of the shear failure and the resulting movement of the mass of snow.

Maccaferri solutions have SFISAR approval. Our snow fences up to 4.5m high have been approved by the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos – SFISAR “Swiss Guidelines for avalanche control structures in the starting zone”, 2006.

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