Zermatt, Andermatt and Davos ski resorts under snow siege

There is high demand for helicopter services out of Zermatt Keystone

Avalanche risk due to heavy snowfall has meant that road and rail access to the ski resort of Zermatt remains cut off. The resorts of Saas-Fee and Andermatt have also been snowed in while in Davos some residents were asked to evacuate their homes. 

This content was published on January 23, 2018 - 09:52, with input from Susan Misicka in Zermatt, and agencies/ac

After several days of heavy snow and rain, the situation remains difficult in various parts of the country due to avalanche risks and mudslides. 

A slight improvement in the weather on Tuesday led to a downgrading in the avalanche risk across a large part of the Alps from the maximum level (5 out of 5,"very high") to 4 (high) on Tuesday morningExternal link.

The avalanche risks and snowlines as of Tuesday morning at 8am SRF-SWI

Since Saturday evening, the ski resort of ZermattExternal link in canton Valais has been cut off due to risk of avalanches. The road and railway line between Täsch and Zermatt is still closed due to avalanche danger and rockfalls, the tourist office said on TuesdayExternal link. The duration of the closure is unclear. This is the second time the resort has been cut off by heavy snow this month.

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Some 9,000 tourists have been blocked at Zermatt since Saturday. Helicopter services out of the resort are heavily oversubscribed. On Sunday, 500 people flew out and 300 arrived. A helicopter ride out of town costs CHF70 ($72.8) per person but poor visibility and high demand have meant a long wait for those looking to fly out. 

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On Tuesday morning the clear skies and good weather allowed helicopters to shuttle between Zermatt and Täsch, enabling visitors to leave the resort safely. Buses are running between Täsch and Visp lower down the valley.

Approximately 1,200 people were issued with tickets on Monday to fly out. However, the mayor Romy Biner told that most helicopter services had been commandeered that day for security work.  Biner called on tourists to stay calm, follow instructions on the website, and have patience.

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It is not just Zermatt that is affected by the heavy snow and avalanche risk disruption. 

The resort of Saas-FeeExternal link, near Zermatt, and AndermattExternal link in central Switzerland have also been cut off by heavy snow and avalanche dangers since Sunday evening. Davos, which is hosting world leaders for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), has also been affected by heavy snow. The authorities have asked the residents of around 30 properties to evacuate to a safer location. 

In the Alps there is a risk of land- and mudslides due to rain-gorged slopes at around 1,600-2,000 metres altitude. Numerous mountain roads are affected or closed in cantons Valais, Graubünden, central Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland. 

The north-south Gotthard road tunnel in southern Switzerland is currently closed due to a mudslide that hit the A2 motorway between Amsteg and Göschenen in canton Uri on Monday evening. 

In the lowlands, the heavy precipitation has increased the risk of floods and landslides considerably.

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