Increased avalanche risk in Tirol mountains

The heavy rainfalls of the last week have led to a critical avalanche situation in the high-alpine regions of Tirol where there is already an onset of winter, experts have warned.

Experts from the Avalanche Warning Service have explained that the risk is due to the fact that a fresh layer of snow and an unstable layer of snow blown by the wind are sitting on the top of the layer of old snow in regions above 2,500 metres altitude.

A single Alpinist could trigger an avalanche – especially in steep areas near the ridges.

The Avalanche Warning Service also predicted that the risk of avalanche will increase in the next few days due to the heavy, humid snow.

Indeed, the warm alpine winds (foehn), the intensity of the sun and the rising temperatures which are expected all mean the layers of old snow and the fresh snow are not holding together.

According to experts, people in Tirol are to expect self-triggered avalanches which could cause obstructions on roads and hiking trails and are being warned to take extra care.

The extreme precipitations of the last month were responsible for generous amounts of fresh snow in the mountains. Many parts of the northern Austrian Alps have seen up to 50 centimetres of fresh snow in the past few weeks.

Tirol weather expert Erhard Berger said that it is very unusual to have that much fresh snow on the mountain at this time of year.