Wind effects on snow distribution and increasing avalanche hazard are well known. Forecasting such phenomena is based on empirical rules and experience. For two years, the CEN has tested a new analysis program for forecasting blowing-snow events at an Alpine site. The aim is to improve avalanche-forecasting tools so as to increase the accuracy of avalanche-hazard forecasts. Our understanding of blowing-snow mechanisms began with observations and field measurements at a high altitude site during periods of strong wind. Using an empirical approach, snow-grain morphology, cohesion between snow particles and grain-size have been combined to define a function for the calculation of a “driftabilily index”. By comparing this index with the wind thresholds observed in field, a snowdrifting index has been defined. Snow profiles calculated by SAFRAN (estimation of relevant meteorological parameters for snow models) and Crocus (snowpack-evolution model) were analysed using an application called PROTÉON. Forecasts of wind velocity and snow profiles have been used to discriminate between periods with or without snow transport. For the subsequent 24 hours and for each snow layer, the value of this snowdrifting index is calculated and displayed on a graph. Validation consists of a comparison of forecasted blowing-snow periods with the field observations and measurements at a pass situated at 2700 m a.s.l. Meteorological and snow-parameter data are available at this site.
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