Officine Maccaferri


Heavy Snow across Central Europe Increases the Risk of Avalanches


Our snow fences can considerably reduce the risk of avalanche by stopping it at source

Heavy snow has affected Central Europe and avalanche bulletins are now warning about a considerable avalanche danger. Risk mitigation measures can be taken to protect ski resorts, residential areas, roads and railway lines.

Our snow fences considerably reduce the risk of avalanches and can offer a solution to this problem. We designed these special mesh barriers to stabilize the layer of snow on the slope and retain it throughout the season. Barriers are installed only in the potential avalanche initiation zone, thereby preventing triggering of the avalanche.

The retaining nets absorb the force exerted by the snow-pack and transmit it to the ground by means of a system of snow fences and anchors. The flexibility of our snow fence system also allows to retain dynamic loads, such as falling rocks and ice blocks.

Our engineers designed these flexible snow fence systems 15 years ago through full-scale tests in the Alps. Our solutions have been approved by the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SFISAR) in Davos, Switzerland.

The snow fence must be positioned in the area of the potential detachment of snow, during a snowless period. The height of the fence must correspond to the maximum height of the expected snow blanket. Depending on the slope morphology, 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.

Among the advantages offered by our snow retention systems there are:

  • ease of installation: this is a key element as avalanche protection systems are usually installed in remote hard-to-reach areas;
  • effectiveness on different types of soil: our snow fence systems are available with four different types of foundation blocks depending on the soil conditions, which include rock, weathered rock, loose rock and permafrost soil or soil that is prone to landslides;
  • reduced maintenance: all components undergo a thorough check every 3 to 5 years. After these time-limits expire, there is no need to completely replace the system; it is enough to replace the damaged elements.

Our engineers can design bespoke technical solutions for avalanche protection, taking into account slope angle, type of soil, thickness of the layer of snow, environmental conditions and exposure of the slope itself. They are also available for site visits and supervision during installation.

Contact us if you need more information about our avalanche prevention systems.

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