New avalanche mapping from SAIS

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Mar/2011
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The Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has launched a new mapping facility, recording the location and details of every avalanche reported in the country since 1991.

The information is presented on a scrollable, zoom-able map and can be filtered by season or area, with hundreds of avalanches on record in locations as far afield as Torridon and the Pentlands. For winter walkers and climbers this fascinating facility should be a useful addition to the SAIS avalanche risk forecasts and blogs produced daily throughout the winter season by expert observers in five core areas: Lochaber, Glen Coe, Creag Meagaidh, Northern Cairngorms and Southern Cairngorms.

+Avalanche debris, Cam Chreag, 146 kbAvalanche debris, Cam Chreag
© Dan Bailey

Since the map only marks recorded avalanches the highest concentrations are shown on the hills that are popular with walkers and climbers; it is worth noting that less frequented areas with fewer recorded incidents may be no less prone to avalanches. Data from outwith the five forecast areas is inevitably more patchy, and to help build the most comprehensive picture possible of avalanche activity in the Scottish mountains eyewitness reports from hill goers are a vital supplement to the observations of SAIS experts. To simplify avalanche recording for members of the public a new online form has been developed.



The Scottish Avalanche Project began in 1988 as an avalanche forecasting service funded by the Scottish Sports Council and operating in just two areas, Glencoe and the North Cairngorms. This ran for two winters, with the addition in 1989-90 of Lochaber and a weekend pilot scheme on Lochnagar. After this the Project was permanently adopted by the Scottish Sports Council and became the Scottish Avalanche Information Service. Later that year the reporting service acquired an online presence. With the addition of South Cairngorms and Creag Meagaidh in winter 1996-97 and the re-naming of the Scottish Sports Council, the operation became the Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service, the form in which it continues today. The SAIS website has grown to become the main source of dissemination for the Snow and Avalanche Reports, with over 3000 visits on a busy winter day.

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