Due to dangerous conditions, avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland plus the Weekly Report from the Institute of Snow and Avalanche
News from Swissinfo.ch
Two men, one of 56 years old and one of 31 have died in hospital after being buried in separate avalanches this week. Authorities have placed several areas in high avalanche risk after adverse weather conditions of late.
A skier was trapped by a slab of falling snow in the popular Flumserberg ski area in eastern Switzerland on Thursday 3rd January afternoon. A companion alerted the authorities, sparking a search by police, the fire brigade, alpine rescuers aided by dogs and helicopters.
The man was found and transported to hospital. But it was announced on Friday that he never recovered from his injuries.
On a second episode, also on Thursday 3rd, a snowboarded was carried away by an avalanche in Davos, in the Graübunden canton in southeast Switzerland. He was dug out by his companions but died from his injuries on Friday.
A second avalanche in the same region on Thursday left another snowboarder with a broken thigh.
Both regions sit in an area stretching from central to southeast Switzerland that is rated as being at the greatest danger of avalanches.
Storms that brought heavy snow and rainfall just before Christmas led the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research to raise avalanche warnings significantly over large swathes of Switzerland.
The risk of avalanches has subsequently fallen, the institute says, but remains at “considerable” levels in some areas. Skiers have been warned not to stray off-piste for fear of triggering avalanches.
More info: swissinfo.ch
Weekly Report 04. – 10. January 2019 from the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research
Lots of fresh snow in the north and in the east, at times big avalanche danger –
In cold temperatures, snow first fell to low altitudes in the east and later in the north. From Saturday to Thursday, fresh snow sums of 100 to 150 cm were registered on the central and eastern slopes of the northern Alps and in northern Grisons. The fresh snow and strong to stormy winds from northern directions led to a critical avalanche situation. In addition to a number of avalanche triggered by individuals, several large avalanches were reported. The avalanche situation was less tense in the west and south. The danger did not increase until the end of the week’s reporting period in the west.
Weather, snow cover, avalanches
Friday, 04.01. until Sunday, 06.01 .: Heavy snowfall in the east
It was temporarily dry on Friday. It was partly cloudy in the east, mostly sunny in the west and south. The midday temperatures at 2000 m were at a low of -10 ° C in the east, at -5 ° C in the remaining areas. The occasionally stormy north wind was able to transport snow, especially in the snow-covered areas on the central and eastern slopes of the northern Alps and in northern Grisons (see Figure 1).
This resulted in small to medium snowdrift accumulations. However, the various new and shoot snow stories of the past days, which were the most powerful in the same areas, were still susceptible to interference (see Figure 2).
In the remaining areas, the newer snowdrift accumulations were thinner and more compact, but in places no less prone to failure (see Figure 3).
In the south, the situation was very different. There was hardly any snow at the Cima della Trosa (1861 m, Mergoscia, TI). There was hardly any risk of avalanche (see Figure 4).
From Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon, it once again snowed considerably to low altitudes (see Figure 5).
On the northern Alpine ridge, on the main ridge of the Alps and generally in Grisons, a stormy north wind continued to blow. The avalanche danger was widely used in the main precipitation areas as “gross” (level 4) (see also danger development at the bottom).
After this snowfall, some avalanches below the tree line were also observed in the main precipitation areas (see Figure 6).
The triggering of these avalanches was probably the result of an inundated surface ripening which was preserved in the wind-protected forest areas and was snowed in. Such a surface ripeness could also be found in snow profiles in the Davos area (see Figure 7).
Monday, 07.01 .: pretty sunny
It was mostly sunny in the Valais and on the southern slope of the Alps, and quite sunny in the west. In the east, it cleared up in the mountains during the day. Temporarily the wind slowed and blew weakly or moderately from the north. The midday temperatures at 2000 m were around the freezing point to the west and south, to -6 ° C to the east. The beautiful weather attracted many people in the powder snow. Some avalanches were also triggered (see avalanche accidents below). But avalanches of the last days could be observed (see picture above, picture 1).
Tuesday, 08.01. until Thursday, 10.01 .: North stagnation with lots of fresh snow on the northern slope of the Alps
During the night on Tuesday snow fell again from the north, which lasted until Thursday in the northeast. The snowfall limit was temporarily at 1000 m. On Wednesday and Thursday it snowed again in the lowlands, where on Thursday during the day in the mountains only little snow fell. From Tuesday to Thursday, significant amounts of new snow were brought together again (see Figure 8). The strong and at times stormy northwest wind transported the fresh snow at high altitude.
As a result of these snowfalls, the avalanche danger in the north and east was classified as “large” (level 4) for the second time in this week’s reporting period (see risk development at the bottom). On Wednesday and Thursday some, probably very large avalanches were reported from Engelberg and the Canton of Glarus, some of which also led to branches. Unfortunately, there were no pictures until the editorial deadline.
At the end of this week’s report period, there were 120 to 200 cm of snow above about 2000 m in the eastern Bernese Alps, on the central and eastern slopes of the Alps, in northern Grisons and parts of the Gotthard area, and in central Switzerland more than 200 cm in places. To the west and south was still much less snow. (see also snow depth at 2000 m ).
Comparing the snow depths with the long-term average, these are below average below 2000 m, especially in the Valais, Ticino and southern Grisons. In the northeast, they are well above average this week’s snowfalls (see Figure 9/1).
Above 2000 m, a slightly different picture was presented. There, the snow depths corresponded to the average, in the new snow-rich areas of the north and east, but they were also significantly higher in these altitudes. They were also well above the average in the Simplon area, but still there as a result of the precipitation of October and November (see Figure 9/2).
Avalanche accidents and damage avalanches
More Info: Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.
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Or you can read our last news on equipment as seen at the London Ski Show. Also, the new range of skis of Black Crows, one of our favourite brands. Lots of snow makes you wonder how the resorts deal with the avalanche danger. Here you can read the interview to Coco Torres, former Head of Operations of Las Leñas, in Argentina, as how they dealt with avalanches at the resort.
Or perhaps you may choose to read the Ski Resort News, Ski Passes News, and the Must-Read Guides to Lech, Zermatt, Courmayeur, Val di Fiemme and Crans-Montana. Coming soon will be the guide to St Anton. Or watch an amazing heli flight over the Mont Blanc Massif. Also see tips on how not to be scammed when booking a ski chalet.
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Another classic resort, such as St Moritz has been in the news for its famous Cresta Run be opened again for women after a 89 years ban.
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Also read how one employee of Aspen Ski Co got caught in an avalanche but got out unscathed while scouting terrain for the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. Or how the a gondola of the new American Eagle lift from Copper Mountain crashed into the snow in a trial run. The resort confirmed that the chondola will be fixed before it’s opening day. Plus this week, some gondolas got tangled in Hochzillertal. And there was a gas explosion at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof that injured six, before its opening date.
You can keep up to date on how are the sales for the EPIC and IKON passes are doing here. Read how Emma, the first Digital Mountain Assistant, is launched in Keystone now and will be rolled to eight other resorts this season. And even read about the new incorporation to the IKON Pass: Valle Nevado. Here is also a post on the South American resorts.
Also, Rob Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam donated 2 million USD in grants to support mental and behavioural health programs in ski towns of North America. And see how Aspen Skiing Company released its sustainability report 2018.
And here is a summary of a report by LISTEX on the State of the UK Snowsports Market.
Or check out how now with the EPIC Pass you can ski in Europe, specifically in Les Trois Vallées and the resorts of Skirama Dolomiti in Trentino’s Italy. Or see our review of L’Héliopic Hotel Sweet & Spa if thinking in staying in Chamonix this winter.
Featured Image: Avalanche- Photo: Mike Suarez – Unsplash. Avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland due to dangerous conditions.