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Ruth Moor-Huber, Gadmen (BE)

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  • Married with three adult children and 10 grandchildren
  • Municipal employee
  • SLF observer since 1988
 

As an observer, what is it exactly that you report?

I look after a measuring site that was established many years ago. It's situated just a few steps from our house in Gadmen. I measure the snow every day from 1 November until 30 April – its depth, the amount of fresh snow, the snow's water equivalent etc. I also report any avalanche observations.

How did you become an SLF observer?

My neighbour monitored the measuring site from 1954 until 1988. When she moved away, she asked me if I would take on the job. At the time, I didn't have any children and I was a housewife, so it was ideal. It was only a small job at first – recording the snow depth and amount of fresh snow in a form every day and sending the entered data to the SLF every two weeks. When the measuring programme was expanded later on, the amount of work increased. To file my readings I had to dial 110 and report the measurements orally using a special numerical code. It was a very specific routine. Then, in the mid-1990s, we switched to computers.

What do you like about this task?

It's interesting to observe how the snow quantities change throughout the winter. Gadmen is situated 1200 m above sea level and there's always snow here. We're also surrounded by avalanche-prone slopes. As a consequence, we're sometimes cut off from the outside world. My husband is a member of the municipal avalanche commission, which means he's interested in the data measurements as well.

Which aspects are less enjoyable/do you find tiresome?

It's always a relief when spring arrives. Performing measurements and reporting the results by 7.30 am every day for six months entails a commitment. I make certain that there are never any gaps – that's important to me.

What does it mean to you to be an observer?

The station has been here for such a long time that it simply has to continue. For as long as I enjoy the role, I won't think about stopping.

How easy is it to combine this task with your other work?

It's easy. Since my regular workplace is in Gadmen, I am able to take the daily measurements in the early morning.

What has been your most memorable experience relating to snow and avalanches?

The extreme winter of 1999, without question. There was so much snow that the three-metre gauge on the measuring site was completely buried. In view of the high avalanche danger, we were evacuated and spent five days in an army barracks. Avalanches caused damage in the valley, but compared to other regions we emerged relatively unscathed.

What is the personal connection between you and snow?

I grew up with snow; it's part of who I am. Winters were much more severe when I was younger. Downhill and cross-country skiing are popular here, but there aren’t many other options.

How do you like to spend your evenings/leisure time?

I enjoy looking after the grandchildren. My large family is very important to me. Skiing is another of my pleasures, and I like lazy get-togethers with friends. I also volunteer with the Samaritans and I'm a member of the First Responder team in my community.

Which is your favourite place in the world?

There’s nowhere in particular – it’s lovely everywhere, each place in its own way.

And your favourite season?

I like all of the seasons, but autumn is the best. The colours of nature create a wonderful atmosphere. We also have very little fog, and the weather here is often still mild.

Is there anything you couldn't live without?

My family and my surroundings. I couldn’t imagine moving to a town or city. I was born and raised in Gadmen – this is where I’m at home.

The SLF is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the avalanche bulletin. What does that mean to you?

The SLF plays a very important role and is a well-known institution. People always consult the avalanche bulletin before undertaking a ski tour. When the roads here have to be closed because of the avalanche danger, we are cut off from the rest of the world. The SLF is a source of knowledge.