Detecting avalanches early

Drivers through Rogers Pass will be a bit safer from avalanches next winter.

Canada's first avalanche detection network, and the word's largest, is being installed in Glacier National Park, following a successful pilot project in 2017.

Earlier this week, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced $18 million in federal infrastructure funding for Glacier National Park, with $3 million set aside for the new detection system.

“With the largest avalanche detection network in the world, we are working with Canadians to create greater and safer opportunities to enjoy the nature we love so much,” McKenna said.

The new system will use radar and infrasound monitoring instruments located near avalanche paths along the Trans-Canada Highway to provide early warnings of increased avalanche activity. While parts of the system will be completed by next winter, the entire system will take three years to install. 

“This technology will alert forecasters in real-time when natural avalanches occur, and also provide certainty that planned avalanches have been successful when low-visibility prevents confirmation,” Parks Canada said in a press release.

The new system is in addition to the recent installation of ten remote avalanche control systems in Rogers Pass that allows technicians to trigger explosives remotely, along with 2,220 metres of netting installed to hold snow in place in areas where avalanches could start.

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