Swiss avalanche kills one person and injures another

An avalanche in Reckingen in the southeastern Wallis region of Switzerland killed a 68-year-old on Saturday, while a second person was injured, police said.

A man uses a machine to clear a path through the snow in the ski resort of Wengen in the Swiss Alps
A man uses a machine to clear a path through the snow in the ski resort of Wengen in the Swiss Alps. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

The two were part of a group of four Italian hikers and were quickly found and freed from the snow by the other two. One died at the scene and the other was airlifted to hospital.

According to a provisional report by the MeteoSwiss weather service on Friday, people have been caught up in 45 avalanches so far this winter.

It urged people to be “careful, careful, careful”.

On Thursday, one person died and several others were injured in avalanches in Switzerland’s Graubunden region, which borders Austria’s Tyrol where avalanches have killed nine people over the last three days.

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Rain and gale-force winds: Storms continue to whip Switzerland

After a relatively calm weekend in many parts of the country, the storm ‘Antonia’ hit Switzerland on Sunday and will continue into Monday night at least.

Rain and gale-force winds: Storms continue to whip Switzerland

Antonia depression swept through Switzerland overnight, bringing rain and strong gusts of wind, measured at nearly 100 kilometres per hour over a large part of the country, including Zurich.

In some regions, like Chasseral in canton Bern, winds were even stronger: a gust of 164 km/h was measured on Monday morning, and the gusts reached a peak of 147 km / h at Säntis, Appenzell Innerrhoden.

The degree of danger is 3 out of 5, which corresponds to a “marked risk” — that is, “weather events with an intensity at the limit of the norm for the season”, according to the Natural Hazards Portal.

This colour coded map shows the degree of dangers in Switzerland: yellow means moderate danger, orange considerable danger, and red high danger.

Image by Natural Hazards Portal

This is what you should be aware of

Natural Hazards Portal is warning the population to stay away from the shores of lakes, groups of trees exposed to the wind forest roads and tree-lined paths, as well as other areas exposed to the wind.

While the intensity of rain and winds is expected to subside by the evening, some dangers may remain over the next few days.

Between 30 to 60 centimetres of fresh snow is forecast over much of the mountains between Monday and Tuesday morning. In some parts of the Alps, the snowline is dropping from the altitude of 1,200 to about 700 metres.

While this is good news for skiers, dangers abound as well.

Stormy winds are causing increasingly large snowdrift accumulations, which can come off  easily, causing avalanches, according to the Institute for the Study of Snow. The avalanche danger is particularly high in Valais.