Iceland

The target area in Iceland is the Westfjords. Six towns and villages are located in the northern part of Westfjords, connected by roads that are threatened by avalanches in many places and affected by snow and icing. These towns are gradually becoming a part of the same employment and service area, but the winter conditions of the connecting roads is a serious problem. For example, the road between the towns of Ísafjörður and Súðavík is on average hit by 50 avalanches per winter. The transport of goods to and from these villages occurs by these roads, but most importantly, many inhabitants have to travel these roads on a daily basis to get to work and to make use of necessary services. Many accidents have occurred leading to damages, injuries and casualties. At least six fatalities are recorded due to avalanches and rock fall on the roads in the last 60 years, but no systematic records exist on injuries and damages. The proposed project will lead to an avalanche forecasting system based on already existing knowledge and data, and tailored to the needs of the road authorities, that make decisions on road closures due to avalanche hazard. No such system exists today. In this area it is not considered an option to close the road every time there is a small chance of an avalanche hitting the road and, therefore, it will be important to define a stage when there is hazard, but the road is still open, and make it public on the web site of the road authorities.  

Snow maps combined with high resolution weather forecasts would help the road authorities predict where the snowdrift will be greatest, and icing may also be predicted. Furthermore, new mountain roads are now being planned and a snow map showing the history of the snow cover would be an important tool to select the best route.




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