Avalanche, storm warnings in Alps on high as heavy snowfall looms
January 12 2019 02:32 PM
Alps ski resort
Alps ski resort


After stormy winds brought snowdrifts to parts of Austria overnight, alpine avalanche risk monitors issued fresh warnings on Saturday.

Heavy snow looks likely once again on Saturday and Sunday in the Alps, ending the brief respite provided by a Friday with relatively little snowfall.

As a result, snow on meadow slopes and in forests could suddenly start to slide even below an altitude of 2000 metres above sea level.

Avalanches could break loose on steep rocky terrain, the avalanche warning service for the state of Styria in south-east Austria reported.

Across the Alps, safety agencies kept the avalanche threat level on high, though it was downgraded on Saturday to lower levels in some spots, including in Germany's Berchtesgaden.

In the central Austrian Ybbstal Alps, some 20 centimetres of new snow was expected at 1500-metres in elevation, with temperatures at minus 5 Celsius.

The German weather service (DWD) also issued a warning over expected heavy snowfall in the coming days. In Upper Bavaria and Swabia, a storm warning was sent out: above 1,000 metres in elevation, up to one metre of fresh snow is expected between Saturday evening and Tuesday.

 In the German Alps and the Bavarian Forest region, between 20 and 50 centimetres of snow is anticipated at 600 metres above sea level.

In the foothills of the Alps, gusty winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour are expected, while in the Bavarian Forest speeds could reach 100 kilometres an hour. Snow drifts are to be expected, according to DWD.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder said Saturday the state would send an additional 500 police officers out to assist the worst-affected areas.

‘There's no need for panic, but there is grounds for serious concern,’ Soeder said Saturday in the southern Bavarian Alpine town of Bad Toelz.

The close to 5,000 officials currently deployed are mainly focussed on removing snow from roofs that are threatened by collapse, he said.

Extreme winter weather has caused travel chaos and weather-related deaths in the region in and around the Alps this week, as well as further afield in Europe.

At Munich and Frankfurt airports, around a hundred flights were cancelled on Friday.

In Bulgaria two snowboarders died in the Pirin mountains on Friday under an avalanche that they themselves had unleashed.

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