Snow chaos in western Austria

An early appearance of winter has hit vast parts of the country with full force.

Snowfall brought railway traffic to a halt in Salzburg yesterday (Mon). More than 200 passengers were trapped in trains for hours after trees collapsed under the weight of the snow and landed on the tracks. No one was injured in the incidents which led to immense delays and schedule changes on the connection between Vienna and Salzburg, one of Austria’s most important railway link. Many passengers were asked to take coaches instead.

Several roads in western Austria were closed for traffic yesterday after substantial amounts of snow blanketed Salzburg and Tyrol. Around 22,000 households in Tyrol were cut off from electricity supplies for hours. Drivers had to apply snow chains to the tyres of their cars and trucks on some mountain pass roads which were not shut due to the conditions. Experts warned of high danger of avalanches in some regions of Tyrol and neighbouring South Tyrol, Italy. Twenty-six workers, climbers, hikers, skiers and snowboarders lose their lives on average under avalanches in Austria a year.

Meanwhile, the lowlands in the east of the country experience intense rainfall these days. Top daytime temperatures around Vienna will not surpass 14 degrees centigrade today. The cold snap comes after Austrians enjoyed several days of summery conditions. Temperatures will inch up from tomorrow to reach 26 degrees centigrade at the weekend, according to meteorologists. Austria’s main skiing resorts will start into the new winter holiday season in a few weeks’ time. Spa resorts and city hotels are expected to benefit from the current conditions.