Avalanches rank among the most significant natural hazards in the Swiss mountains. The SLF has been responsible for providing an avalanche warning service on behalf of the Swiss federal government since 1945 and for informing the public about the current snow and avalanche situation.
The SLF's most important product is the avalanche bulletin. The bulletin is a vital planning and decision-making tool for local avalanche and safety authorities, snow sports enthusiasts and anyone spending time in the mountains in winter outside secured areas. A number of other products such as snow maps and weekly reports provide additional or more in-depth information about the snow and avalanche situation.
The avalanche bulletin is designed as an informed warning. It is published twice daily in winter and primarily contains a forecast of the avalanche danger in the Swiss Alps, Liechtenstein and, when there is sufficient snow cover, the Jura as well. The avalanche bulletin is available online and via the White Risk app. In summer, avalanche bulletins are only published as and when necessary.
The avalanche warning service has a wide range of data at its disposal, including measurements, observations, local avalanche risk assessments and results from the study of models. Combining and weighting the individual measurement parameters in accordance with individual situations is the only way to ensure that the avalanche bulletin is as reliable as possible in all the varied situations that can occur. Up-to-date field data are vital for this, which is why the SLF maintains its own network of observers. The official observers are trained by the avalanche warning service, report regularly on their findings and get paid for their reports. Additional information comes from local safety services, rescue organisations and the police and also of course from winter sports enthusiasts.