Almost a dozen people have died in avalanches in the Alps within a few days. How does this accumulation come about?
Innsbruck/Berchtesgaden – According to experts, the high number of avalanche accidents over the weekend in the Alps with a total of eleven deaths is due not least to an unfortunate chain of circumstances.
“There were a lot of people out and about, the weather was nice and there was a dangerous avalanche situation. It’s a combination, something just often happens,” says Thomas Feistl, head of the avalanche warning center in the Bavarian State Office for the Environment. The snow cover structure, especially on the main ridge of the Alps, was bad – one reason was heavy snowfall after a long period of little snow.
In Austria, nine people died in avalanches from Friday to Sunday. A tourer also died in Switzerland and another in Bavaria.
The avalanche warning level was only reduced on Friday from level 4 of the previous days to level 3, said Feistl. “At level 3 (out of 5) most accidents happen.” Two thirds of all accidents occur in this situation.
Especially at level 3, the concrete danger is sometimes difficult to assess, on the other hand, certain tours can definitely be undertaken. “But avalanche assessment skills are part of it, and mistakes can happen.”
In parts of the Bavarian Alps, the warning level rose again to 3 on Monday. The reason was 20 to 40 centimeters of fresh snow and snowdrift accumulations due to strong winds. Feistl urged caution for the next few days. “These are the most accident-prone days” – also because the fresh snow is curling. “The first nice days are the most dangerous for tourers.” The experts at the avalanche warning center expect the situation to relax over the weekend. dpa