The weather in Bavaria and Austria, always a danger. The continuing falls of snow have fallen in the Region, partly into Chaos. In some Parts of the quantities are due to the huge snow, whole villages cut off and many roads blocked.

In the case of Berchtesgaden, around 350 people are stuck and have to be supplied by trucks with food. Due to the avalanche danger, the authorities in Austria, numerous Federal and state had to block roads. On Wednesday morning, other places were accessible, including the tourist Obertauern in the province of Salzburg. The Inntal motorway (A12) was blocked for about an hour.

video interview: The five most important issues for avalanche risk


it Also came on several occasions to fatal accidents: In Berchtesgadener Land, was buried on Saturday a Tour kid … thank you from an avalanche and died. Also in the Vorarlberg in Austria, a German skier was recovered dead from an avalanche. (As fans of winter sports behavior in case of avalanche danger should, read here.)

In some Parts of Styria has the highest avalanche warning level of five, she is since Wednesday in the Ybbstaler Alps in lower Austria. “The risk of large Avalanches is very, very high,” said the head of the civil protection, the province of Styria, Harald Eitner.

avalanches are a threat to the people in mountainous regions for thousands of years. So already on the field and Hannibal is supposed to have in his legendary Crossing of the Alps in ancient times, soldiers and elephants through the Snow lost. What about avalanches?

What factors contribute to avalanches?

in order for a mountain of snow and ice masses and the overthrow of the valley, various criteria must be fulfilled. In addition, different processes play a role. An important factor is how much new snow in a short period of time at a certain place. Snow drifts can exacerbate the Problem. This so-called snowdrift, it connects poorly with the existing substrate and can slip off easily. Also, high temperatures as well as the nature of the soil under the Snow cover (Grass, Rock, forest floor) can be crucial.

in Addition, the location of the Slope plays a role: In our Northern Latitudes, the Northern slopes are the least exposed to solar radiation. As a result, the stabilization of the snow is not slowing down ceiling, because it thickens so quickly. Danger no longer exist. Later in the winter, South-facing slopes are, however, delicate, since larger heat of wet snow avalanches is favored.

avalanche the avalanche the same?

no, the experts distinguish several types. loose snow avalanches occur in steep terrain, to a certain extent spontaneously and to a single point. If the individual ice Crystals are no longer liable in the snow strong enough to each other, they move down to the valley and to repel other particles. It is similar to a ball that gets bigger as it rolls into the valley. Such avalanches are relatively harmless and tend to be small and slow.

As a fast, snow-rich and especially for winter sports enthusiasts especially dangerous apply slab avalanches . Here is a whole slab of Snow moves the piece down to the valley. This Form of avalanche occurs when the snow different layers are stacked. Particularly problematic is the so-called weak layers in the subsoil, in which there are only a few bonds between the individual ice crystals. If, for example, such a layer of large amounts of fresh snow that can break due to the weight of more and more of these bonds. The effect propagates at a high speed – large snow pieces, break out all of a sudden. On the broken layer, the overlying layers of Snow downhill slide. In Austria, experts warn currently, especially in loose snow and slab avalanches.

wet snow avalanches arise spontaneously, especially in the case of large warming. Here, the bonds between the ice crystals are usually destroyed by the ingress of melt water. They may occur as a loose snow avalanche or snow Board.

Insidious, are also glide-snow avalanches , the tearing, such as a snow Board over a longer distance. However, the entire snow-slips in this case the ceiling, because water is spilled in the area of the Snow cover, the direct contact with the ground. Another case of dust avalanches , in which, for example, to snow Board or flow avalanches of snow and air mixing. This Lawinenart holds because of the occurring pressure waves, a large destructive potential, you can be with more than 300 kilometres per hour on the road. In addition, they also threaten to suffocate when your lungs are filled with snow dust.

What is the Lawinentyp is especially dangerous?

According to the Institute for snow and avalanche research in Davos, Switzerland, are calling for snow Board, 90 percent of all death in avalanche victims. You don’t have to be big to be deadly. A typical winter sports enthusiasts triggered snow slab avalanche is about 50 meters wide and 150 to 200 meters long. And is especially dangerous, because the one who triggered it, will be spilled. In loose snow avalanches, only ten percent of the victims die. Here, it is often so that the snow slides under the trigger Person, and the snow amounts are lower.

What is the role of the slope?

on the slope must not be steep, so that an avalanche occurs. Material researchers have found that snow boards are also used in flat terrain to Slide. 30 degrees and less. In loose snow, dry snow, the slope is avalanche at the trigger point, usually beyond 40 degrees. In the case of Slopes in excess of 50 degree snow avalanches are rather rare.

How does it feel Inside an avalanche?

See our self-test:


How to make an avalanche forecast is produced?

For making predictions, experts are using the latest observational data and computer models. Often, however, avalanche forecasts for larger regions are hard to come by. Because how, exactly, it looks like the Inside of a blanket of Snow, is not always easy. Also can change the conditions, even in a small space easily. In addition, the disposal of an avalanche is a chaotic process. Therefore, it can be only in limits of predictions.

It is possible to determine the probability of an avalanche for a given location. Such, in the Winter often several times a day updated reports, are for operators of ski resorts is important, the need to be locked up to decide, when to the slopes.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.