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a Snow Avalanche Hazards and Mitigation in the United States
i Snow Avalanche Hazards and Mitigation in the United States Panel on Snow Avalanches Committee on Ground Failure Hazards Mitigation Research Division of Natural Hazard Mitigation Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.1990
ii NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose mem- bers are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee con- sisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineer- ing programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initia- tive, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of sci- ence and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. Functioning in accor- dance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This study was supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Purchase Order DTFH61-85-P-00311; U.S. Department of the Interior/Office of Surface Mining, Contract No. J5130137; U.S. Geological Survey, Grant No. 14-08-0001-G1101; Federal Emergency Man- agement Agency, Contract No. EMW-85-K-2202; U.S. Department of the Army; Naval Facilities Engineering Command; and National Science Foundation, Master Agreement No. 82-05616 to the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or rec- ommendations expressed in this report are those of the committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agencies. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 90-62814 Limited number of copies available without charge from: Committee on Ground Failure Hazards Mitigation Research Division of Natural Hazard Mitigation, HA 286 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 S218 Printed in the United States of America Frontispiece photos: (top) Dry snow (powder) avalanche from slab release triggered from helicopter (courtesy of W. Porton); (bottom) Wet snow avalanche in a developed area (courtesy of FISAR).
iii COMMITTEE ON GROUND FAILURE HAZARDS MITIGATION RESEARCH DAVID B. PRIOR (Chair), Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge GENEVIEVE ATWOOD, Utah Geological and Mineral Survey, Salt Lake City DAVID S. BROOKSHIRE, University of Wyoming, Laramie RHEA L. GRAHAM, Consultant, Placitas, New Mexico A. G. KEENE, Department of Public Works, Los Angeles, California F. BEACH LEIGHTON, Leighton & Associates, Inc., Irvine, California GEORGE G. MADER, William Spangle & Associates, Portola Valley, California H. CRANE MILLER, Attorney, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM J. PETAK, University of Southern California, Los Angeles DWIGHT A. SANGREY, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York ROBERT L. SCHUSTER, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado JAMES E. SLOSSON, Slosson & Associates, Van Nuys, California DONALD R. SNETHEN, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater DOUGLAS N. SWANSTON, Forestry Sciences Lab, Juneau, Alaska BARRY VOIGHT, Pennsylvania State University, University Park Liaison Representatives N. B. BENNETT III, Division of Geology, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado LEON L. BERATAN (retired), Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. C. Y. CHEN, (formerly) Office of Surface Mining, Washington, D.C. ROBERT A. CUMMINGS, Society of Mining Engineers, Engineers International, Inc., Tucson, Arizona DONALD G. FOHS, Construction Maintenance and Environmental Design Division, Federal Highway Administration, McLean, Virginia ROBERT P. HARTLEY, Solid and Hazardous Waste Research Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio DARRELL G. HERD, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia THOMAS L. HOLZER, Geological Society of America, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California BENJAMIN I. KELLY, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C. LOUIS KIRKALDIE, Soil Conservation Service, Washington, D.C. PAUL KRUMPE, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C. ADRIAN PELZNER, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. J. E. SABADELL, Division of Biological and Critical Systems, National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C. CHI-SHING WANG, Division of Health and Safety Technology, Bureau of Mines, Washington, D.C. DAVIS E. WHITE, Manufactured Housing and Construction Standards Division, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C. MICHAEL YACHNIS (retired), Facilities Engineering Command, U.S. Department of the Navy, Alexandria, Virginia ARTHUR J. ZEIZEL, Office of Natural and Technological Hazards, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C.
iv Staff Riley M. Chung, Director Abe Bernstein, former Senior Staff Officer Barbara Bodling, Editor Jennifer T. Estep, Administrative Secretary Patricia T. Green, Research Aide Susan R McCutchen, Administrative Assistant Shirley J. Whitley, Project Assistant
v PANEL ON SNOW AVALANCHES BARRY VOIGHT (Chair), Pennsylvania State University, University Park B. R. ARMSTRONG, Fulcrum Inc., Denver, Colorado R. L. ARMSTRONG, University of Colorado, Boulder D. BACHMAN, Consultant, Crested Butte, Colorado D. BOWLES, Montana State University, Bozeman, and Utah Department of Transportation, Alta R. L. BROWN, Montana State University, Bozeman R. D. FAISANT, Attorney, Palo Alto, California S. A. FERGUSON, Northwest Avalanche Center, Seattle J. A. FREDSTON, Alaska Mountain Safety Center, Anchorage J. L. KENNEDY, Attorney, Sun Valley, Idaho J. KIUSALAAS, Pennsylvania State University, University Park E. R. LACHAPELLE, University of Washington, Seattle R. C. McFARLANE, Camrose Lutheran College, Camrose, British Columbia R. NEWCOMB, American Avalanche Institute, Wilson, Wyoming R. PENNIMAN, Consultant, Tahoe City, California R. PERLA, NHRI Environment, Canmore, Alberta
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vii Acknowledgments Principal authors of the report are panel members B. Voight (Editor), B. R. Armstrong, R. L. Armstrong, D. Bowles, R. L. Brown, S. A. Ferguson, J. A. Fredston, J. Kiusalaas, R.C. McFarlane, and R. Penniman. Valuable contributions to report planning were made by D. Bachman, Consultant, Crested Butte, Colorado R. D. Faisant, Attorney, Palo Alto, California D. Fesler, Consultant, Alaska Mountain Safety Center, Anchorage J. L. Kennedy, Attorney, Sun Valley, Idaho E. R. LaChapelle, University of Washington, Seattle M. Martinelli, Jr. (retired), U.S. Forest Service R. Newcomb, American Avalanche Institute, Wilson, Wyoming R. Perla, NHRI Environment, Canmore, Alberta Written or oral contributions were provided by D. Abromeit, J. Anderson, G. Borrel, H. Boyne, D. S. Brookshire, S. Burns, E. Burr, R. Christiansen, S. Colbeck, J. E. Fagan, R. Feuchter, G. Fiebiger, L. Fitzgerald, D. Foley, G. L. Freer, C. Fuchs, D. Gallagher, S. K. Gerdes, W. Good, H. Gubler, J. M. Herbert, L. Heywood, J. Hoagland, C. Jaccard, R. J. Janda, A. Judson, R. Kattelmann, L. Knazovicky, W. Kockelman, T. E. Lang, J. O. Larsen, J. C. Leiva, P. Lev, K. Lied, G. Mace, N. Maeno, R. A. Mandahl, R. T. Marriott, D. M. McClung, A. I. Mears, J. Montagne, M. Moore, T. Nakamura, K. Niemczyk, H. Norem, R. B. Olshansky, J. C. Paine, P. Schaerer, R. A. Schmidt, C. Stethem, J. M. Taillandier, T. W. Tesche, C. Tolton, F. Valla, K. F. Voitkovskiy, W. Walters, E. Wengi, O. Wieringa, C. Wilbour, K. Williams, N. Wilson, and C. Wuilloud. The editor apologizes for any omissions, which are probably inevitable although unintentional.
CONTENTS ix Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Snow Avalanche Problems 5 2 The Avalanche Phenomenon 9 AvalanchesâA Type of Ground Failure 9 Causes of Avalanche Release 13 Geographic Distribution of Avalanche Hazard 14 Economic Costs of U.S. Avalanches 16 Examples of Economic Impact 17 3 Avalanche Management Policy in the United States 20 Historical Development 20 Current Status 22 Comments 24 4 An International Perspective on Avalanche Management 27 Legislation 27 Hazard Delineation 30 Insurance and Disaster Relief 34 Comments 35 5 Avalanche Control 37 Artificial Release of Avalanches 37 Controlling the Use of Explosives 41 Major Problems in the Use of Explosives 41 Mechanical Compaction and Disruption 43 Structural Control of Avalanches 43 Comments 45 Notes 46
CONTENTS x 6 Forecasting Avalanches 47 Forecasting Organizations 47 State of the Forecasting Art 49 Comments 50 7 Avalanche Research 51 International Programs 51 Current Status of Avalanche Research in the United States 55 Comments 57 Note 60 8 Problems in Communications 62 Technology Transfer 62 Education 63 Comments 67 9 Conclusions and Recommendations 69 National Leadership 70 Hazard Delineation and Regulation 71 Control Measures 72 Forecasting 72 Research 72 Communications 73 Concluding Remarks 74 References 75