AVALANCHE DESIGN AND CLIMATE CHANGE

When we built our house on a lot in an avalanche prone area, we did our due diligence in obtaining an avalanche potential report. It was a very thorough document that determined the maximum forces that could be thrust against the house, by looking at all sorts of historical data on snow in the area. The one thing that neither the engineer nor the city building department considered was climate change. In the 6 years that the house has been complete, there has not been one winter where the hillside that threatens it has been fully covered with snow. None the less, there is a sense of comfort in not fearing an avalanche (or wind for that matter), and an odd desire to see one occur.

The bigger question with climate change, as it manifests itself in the form of erratic weather conditions and architecture, is what disaster should a building be designed for? or from a slightly different perspective; What should we no longer be designing for? It is well discussed that human activity is disrupting climatological cycles and causing weather anomalies, I would like to know if when we control our negative impacts, will it all return to normal?

For the immediate future, I will continue to enjoy the proximity to the ski lifts and try to convince friends that there is sanity in my willingness to live in an avalanche zone. Maybe, with any luck, the more distant future will test our well founded design.

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