An anti-avalanche barrier, which is located above the healthcare center in the town of Ólafsvík in West-Iceland, stopped an avalanche from reaching the health center on March 19, skessuhorn.is reports. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Snæfellsjökull-Glacier, West Iceland. Photo by PS.
Tómas Jóhannesson, expert in the field of glacier- and avalanche research at the Icelandic Met Office, believes it is evident that the system prevented a much larger avalanche from taking place. It is estimated that 5,000-10,000 m3 of snow was stopped by the barrier, which is much more than the amount of snow which was carried further down with the avalanche.
Tómas says that the avalanche could have become much larger and would even have reached the healthcare center if the barrier had not reduced the amount of snow the avalanche took with it. According to Tómas, this is the first time such a system has prevented or reduced the size of an avalanche in Iceland.