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Snow in the Alps: danger of avalanches and floods



Much of Bavaria and Austria continue to struggle with heavy snow. The avalanche danger remains high and may even increase. Further north, the rivers burst their shores.

Time in the Alps remains tense. In five counties of Lower Bavaria Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, Traunstein, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Miesbach and Berchtesgadener Land continue to be a disaster. Many roads are closed, avalanches and heavy snow loads on the roofs are dangerous. For the Bavarian Alps, the second highest level of avalanche warning is four.

On Monday morning an avalanche hit a hotel in the winter ski resort of Balderschwang. No one was hurt, police said. The avalanche with a width of 300 meters pushed into hotel windows and snow entered inside. The approximately 100 guests of the hotel have been hosted elsewhere.

The forces were in place, but initially they were not able to start the compensation. The experts had to first clarify whether more snowboards could be solved. The entrance to the municipality of Balderschwang is released due to the danger of avalanches from Sunday only for emergency vehicles. About 1300 people are stuck in the winter sports resort.

In Lower Bavaria, however, the situation has relaxed: the access roads to the Sankt Englmar winter sports resort are again open. The district office freed the access roads at 5:00 am, after several forest machines had cleared the trees from snow and shaken snow from the trees. The ski lifts in the ski area, cross-country ski trails and hiking trails remain closed until further notice.

Seehofer sends 230 federal policemen

During a visit to Berchtesgaden, Federal Minister of Home Horst Seehofer promised to provide 230 federal police officers to assist helpers in snow-covered areas. "This is a sign that you simply find yourself in a situation like that," he said. On Saturday, the district administrator of the Land Berchtesgadener asked for help from the federal police.

Seehofer thanked the thousands of helpers for their efforts. People have done superhuman things for days, he said. According to Seehofer, more than 200 federal police are currently taking part in the removal of roofs and roads in the Berchtesgaden district alone. The use initially limited to three days will be extended, if necessary.


Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had already traveled to Berchtesgaden on Sunday and promised further help to the districts affected by the chaos of the snow. More than 1,000 helpers from the German Armed Forces, the Fire Brigade, the Red Cross and the Federal Rescue Agency are among the others releasing snow-covered masses of collapsed roofs.

The Bavarian Technical Relief Agency (THW) is preparing for further missions to the affected counties. "We expect the week to bring us a lot of work," said the Bavarian State Representative for Bavaria, Fritz-Helge Voß.

Therefore, the THW yesterday replaced its helpers. The new helpers would be ready in the middle or at the end of the week. If the Bavarian helpers are not enough, then the THW could draw strength from all federal territory, so Voss.

The rivers overflow the banks

Meanwhile, meltwater and rainfall in the lower areas of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg cause flooding. Several rivers and streams broke into the night. Especially in central and northern Bavaria there were partially flooded fields and meadows. For the district of Upper Franconia of Kulmbach, the authorities warned against floods in built-up areas.

Even in Central Franconia, the police responded to the floods. "The flood is slow," a police spokeswoman said. In Lower Bavaria, according to a police spokesperson, water levels have increased slightly. The roads have not yet been flooded.

Thousands of Austrians have snowed

The situation in Austria is also getting worse. More than 180 streets are closed, places like Lech and Zürs are no longer accessible. The village of Stuben am Arlberg was also isolated from the outside world because of the danger of avalanches. The Fernpass, an important connection between Germany and Austria, can not be used at the moment either.

Only in Salzburg, 17,000 people are cut off from the outside world. As reported by the authorities, the road to Obertauern was closed on Sunday evening due to the danger of avalanches. Even in Styria more than 1000 people have to persevere in snowy villages.

Many Tyrolean avalanches started in Tyrol. As announced by the Austrian state avalanche service, the highest level of avalanche warning was therefore extended to other regions of the country. "More snow was falling on the Karwendel than expected," said the experts in their management report.

The Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics believes it could be up to five degrees in the heat in Tyrol and Vorarlberg. This would increase the danger of avalanches, especially at medium and high altitudes. In some parts of Austria, the highest level of avalanche warning is due to the new snowfall.

Tension in Switzerland

The situation is also tense in Switzerland: during the weekend, around one meter of fresh snow fell in the Swiss Alps. A partly stormy wind with speeds of up to 100 kilometers at the moment caused drifts. As a result, many roads and railways have been blocked in the mountainous regions.

In the Surselva region of Grisons, after an avalanche, the Disentis community, known for its Benedictine monastery, is isolated from the outside world. In the canton Uri, an avalanche spilled four vehicles on a road. No one was hurt.

The avalanche danger has been raised at the highest level by the Institute of Snow and Avalanche Research in several areas. Until Monday evening, another 60-100 cm of snow is expected from the Eastern Bernese Oberland towards Alpstein, Upper Valais and Silvretta.

Snow at least until Tuesday

According to ORF, it will snow almost continuously in the northern and central Alps until Tuesday at noon. Between the Vorarlberg and Lower Austria, experts at the time expect 50 to 150 centimeters of fresh snow. This could increase the danger of avalanches along with storms and snowdrifts.

The German meteorological service also expects new snowfalls for the Bavarian Alps. In part it could fall up to a meter of snow, so the prognosis of meteorologists. For other parts of Bavaria, they provide granita. The load on trees and roofs could increase further.

The topics of the day were reported on this topic at 11.15 pm on 13 January 2019 and 09.00 on 14 January 2019 in Tagesschau.


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