Maximum avalanche risk flagged for southern Switzerland

The Matterhorn mountain above Zermatt, where the highest risk was centred. Keystone

The tempestuous weather that has marked the holiday season in Switzerland continues as the avalanche risk in parts of the south has been raised to a maximum 5 of 5.

This content was published on January 8, 2018 - 20:51 and agencies

The warning was published on Monday evening by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSLExternal link). It notably concerns the southern canton of Valais, where certain areas warrant the highest risk.

+ Read about the historic threat of avalanches in the Alpine nation

According to the WSL, a mixture of predicted fresh snowfall on top of the old snow that fell in abundance over Christmas could lead to “numerous spontaneous avalanches of a large, and often very large, scale.”

The highest alert centre around the popular ski areas of Saas-Fee and Zermatt. Rail access to the latter mountain resort was suspended as of Monday evening. A warning of 4 of 5 was also extended across much of the rest of the Valais region and across into Canton Ticino (see map).

The avalanche risk (black/red is level 5) and snowlines as of Monday evening. WSL

Unusually high temperatures (driven by the easterly ‘foehn’ wind) still mark the lower regions in Switzerland. But in parts of Valais above 1400-1800 metres up to 110 cm of snow is expected to fall between Monday and Tuesday.

The warning also comes just several days after Storm Burglind battered the country, derailing trains, toppling vehicles on motorways, and leaving thousands without electricity.

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