Rendering of the automated avalanche detection system on Highway 37A near Stewart. May 29, 2020. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

There are almost 1,400 avalanche paths in British Columbia. This past season, Highway 37A to Stewart was a lot safer thanks to the help of some new technology.

One new tool for avalanche control is the automated avalanche detection system (AADS). It just completed its first year in a three-year pilot program on Highway 37A between Stewart and Meziadin Junction.

The AADS is made up of radar stations equipped with high-definition cameras and communications equipment at the Little Bears and George Copper avalanche areas.

The radar uses an algorithm to observe movement up to five kilometres away and sends real-time alerts and photos by way of a radio link station to a base in Stewart, where the team can determine what kind of response is required.

Highway 37A is the only road into and out of Stewart. Over the past 35 years, the highway averages 88 hours of preventative and unscheduled road closures per year.

Due to the help of the AADS system, Hwy 37A experienced only 39 closure hours, a drop of over 40 per cent from the average.

From Nov. 10, 2019 to mid-April 2020, the AADS detected around 1,200 avalanche events in the area, a number that would not have been possible without the technology. Avalanches not visible from the highway would not have been recorded at all.

READ MORE: Avalanche closes Hwy 37A into Stewart

“As B.C. begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the efficient movement of goods remains a vital priority for rebuilding our economy,” said Dave Earle, president and CEO, British Columbia Trucking Association in the release.

“The Automated Avalanche Detection System helps B.C.’s avalanche experts to continuously monitor avalanche activity day or night, in any weather condition, and ensures our members can safely traverse the Highway 37A corridor. We applaud the provincial government’s commitment to increasing transportation reliability and highway safety.”

Switzerland and Norway already use AADS systems. The AADS on Highway 37A is the first to be put to work in Canada.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aimed at success – the launch hit the target

Prince Rupert teen Brendan Eshom launches educational software app that hits Apple’s “Top Charts”

Getting a head for cancer research

Prince Rupert Cops for Cancer want to flush away the illness with loads of donations for research

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Most Read