New detection system ready for avalanche season

Province of British Columbia
By Province of British Columbia
November 1st, 2021

A new Automated Avalanche Detection System is operational in Ningunsaw Pass, improving the reliability of Highway 37 between Terrace and Dease Lake, and providing peace of mind for people travelling the area as avalanche season gets underway.

“British Columbia’s highways pass through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world and are susceptible to avalanches at numerous locations,” said Nathan CullenStikine MLA, on behalf of Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Closures can cause significant inconvenience and delays for the travelling public and the commercial trucking industry. Our investments in Automated Avalanche Detection Systems and Remote Avalanche Control Systems improve highway reliability, which has a direct and positive impact for people and the provincial economy.”

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff who work in the Avalanche and Weather Programs are responsible for ensuring that drivers and workers can rely on a safe provincial transportation system during the winter. Automated Avalanche Detection Systems include radar, high-definition cameras and communications equipment, allowing avalanche technicians to monitor avalanche activity in real time. This data, combined with extensive local knowledge, ensures that highways are closed when they need to be and open when they are safe.

The Automated Avalanche Detection System at Ningunsaw Pass is the second location in the province to use this technology. The first location, at Bear Pass between Stewart and Meziadin Junction, has been active since 2019 and has reduced road closure times by nearly 40% on that stretch of Highway 37A.

British Columbia has one of the world’s most challenging avalanche-management areas. The ministry’s avalanche program manages more than 60 avalanche areas with active avalanche paths potentially affecting provincial roadways at nearly 1,400 locations.

During avalanche season, people can expect some highway closures, either due to high avalanche hazard conditions or to allow for avalanche control. Drivers should alter travel plans as necessary and check DriveBC.ca and @DriveBC on Twitter for the most up-to-date highway travel information.

Quick Facts:

  • The Automated Avalanche Detection System helps B.C.’s avalanche experts  continuously monitor avalanche activity day or night, in any weather condition, from their mobile device.
  • The technology sends real-time avalanche notifications, data and imagery to mobile devices so the avalanche team can effectively manage avalanche risk with timely preventative closures and targeted avalanche control.
  • Informed by the Automated Avalanche Detection System, avalanche teams employ traditional avalanche control measures to reduce the risk of naturally occurring avalanches, including helicopter explosive charge deployment, avalanche catchments and stopping walls.

Categories: General


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