Helicopter Avalanche Control
In the United States, avalanches on National Forests are responsible for 25 to 30 deaths annually. This is more than any other natural hazard. There are methods that are used in order to lessen the danger of avalanches. Typically, the areas that are at high risk of avalanches are remote and data-poor. Because of this, helicopters drop explosives into areas that are dense in snow. The general idea is to break up thick piles of snow. This creates smaller, more controlled avalanches that are less dangerous for the public and highways.
Types of Explosives for Avalanche Control
The types, size, and makeup of the explosives for avalanches vary greatly. One common mixture is a 27.6-pound charge of ammonium nitrate, fertilizer and diesel mix. However, there are other compounds in avalanche control:
- Trinitrotoluene (TNT)
- Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN)
- Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX)
- Ammonium nitrate
Depending on the location, size, terrain, and weather conditions, the annual quantity of explosives ranges. The department of transportation partners with local ski resorts and property owners to ensure the safety of not only the avalanche control crew but also the safety of locals and tourists. Nobody wants to spend hours and hours waiting for roadways to open back up. Professionals at high altitudes are employing helicopters for avalanche control around the world. Helicopters offer the most precise, efficient, and cost-effective option for controlling and preventing avalanches. The ability to hover in place and land quickly nearly everywhere is one of the many reasons why helicopters are the way to go.
New Technology Still Requires Helicopters
The latest avalanche control technology includes towers. Installing these towers takes strategy and special mapping capabilities like LiDar to see snow depths. Personnel can remotely control the towers to drop explosives that are not in the hands of man. These towers make avalanche control much safer and more efficient. On a regular basis, the towers are reloaded, inspected, and maintenanced via helicopter. In addition, there are solar or wind-powered generators that allow the towers to remain operational instead of relying on vulnerable supply lines.