The areas in which avalanches occur may also be used for human activities, such as skiing. Villages and towns are also often located in the valleys. It is important for the people, economy, and the environment that avalanches are managed.
There are several ways in which avalanches can be managed.
People try to predict when avalanches are going to occur. The Alps has an 'avalanche season' between January and March when most avalanches happen. Where avalanches are going to occur is hard to predict. Historical data, weather information and information about the actual snow on the mountainside is collected together to try and forecast the likelihood of an avalanche.
Avalanches can be started deliberately in order to prevent the snow building up. This is one of the most important ways of preventing avalanches.
Signs of the risk of avalanches can be displayed in villages and also by the ski lifts. In the Alps the risk is assessed on a five-point scale. Areas can be sealed off which are considered too dangerous to ski on. Early warning systems are also used.
Land can be grouped into red, yellow and green areas. The red areas are considered too dangerous to be built on. The orange areas can be built on with restrictions, such as reinforcing buildings. Roads and railways can be protected by tunnels over them in the areas where an avalanche path is likely to travel.
These can be used to divert and break up the path of the avalanche.
Trees can be planted, increasing stability of the slope and helping to reduce the damage further down the valley.