Weather alert: Heavy snow forecast to hit in Switzerland

Much of Switzerland will experience significant snowfall, which could trigger avalanches in the mountains, forecasters say.

Weather alert: Heavy snow forecast to hit in Switzerland
Heavy snow is expected in Switzerland this week. Photo by AFP

On Tuesday January 12th, up to 15 centimetres of fresh snow is expected to fall on parts of the country, the federal meteorological service MeteoSwiss said.


The service is issuing a Level 3 weather alert for the Western Jura, the Swiss-Romand Plateau, and the Vaud Prealps.

The hazard categories are numbered 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe one.

Then, between Tuesday noon and Thursday evening, humid polar air, accompanied by strong winds, is expected to dump 80 to 110 centimetres of snow on the northern slope of the Alps and in Valais above 1,000 metres.

The heavy snowfall could “significantly increase” the risk of avalanches in all regions of Switzerland, according to Swiss Avalanche Bulletin. 

The snow follows closely what MeteoSwiss qualified as the coldest weather of the current winter season so far — on January 9th, the temperature  dropped to -30.7 degrees in Glattalp in canton Schwyz.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are the Covid-19 rules for skiing in Switzerland this winter? 


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Avalanches in Switzerland kill two

Avalanches in Switzerland have left two people dead, leading officials to warn on Saturday of the risks posed by particularly unstable snow cover. A further eight people have died in neighbouring Austria

Avalanches in Switzerland kill two

In Switzerland, two off-piste skiers were killed by an avalanche Saturday morning in the southeastern canton of Graubuenden, the cantonal police said.

A third member of the group was caught up in the flow of snow but managed to escape unharmed, local police said in a statement.

The two skiers who died were a 56-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man, said police.

The rescue operation there was hampered by poor visibility and bad weather conditions, police said.

In Austria, the body of a 59-year-old man buried while helping the snow removal effort in his tractor was recovered, police in Austria’s western Tyrol region said on Sunday.

Two skiers aged 29 and 33, including a guide, who were carried off-piste on Saturday morning, were found dead in Sankt Anton am Arlberg.

And a 62-year-old man, who had not returned after cross-country skiing around the summit of Hohe Aifner, was recovered by rescuers and could not be revived, a police spokesman told AFP.

The authorities declined to give information on the nationality of the four victims recovered Sunday.

These deaths are in addition to the three killed on Saturday who were visiting Austria’s Alpine regions.

“One winter sports enthusiast was killed in an avalanche in Kaltenbach on Saturday,” a police spokesman told AFP, without giving further details of the
accident in the small Alpine village.

Austrian news agency APA reported that the victim was a 17-year-old New Zealander who was skiing off-piste.

On Friday, a 32-year-old Chinese man, who was also said to be skiing away from the designated routes, died in an avalanche in the resort of Soelden.

A third victim was found dead Saturday after being reported missing the previous day. APA reported that the man, in his 50s, had died in the Kleinwalsertal valley on Austria’s border with Germany.
Over the past two days, intensive snowfall and wind have increased the avalanche danger.

The officials in Austria have warned winter sports enthusiasts to exercise caution.

Despite the alert level being set at four on a scale of five however, many holidaymakers have ventured off the marked slopes, authorities said.

The avalanche situation also led to numerous rescue operations on Saturday, which were themselves made more dangerous by the weather conditions.

With the February school holidays underway in Vienna, Austria’s resorts have filled up, after a poor start to the season because of the lack of snow at low and medium altitudes.

In recent years, in Austria, a leading winter sports destination, avalanches have killed around twenty people a year.