Wintry weather brings avalanche risk
Fresh snowfall – two weeks into spring – has been causing traffic disruption in Switzerland and brought warnings of a high avalanche danger for some regions.
Around 1.5 metres of snow has fallen in some parts of the Alps since Wednesday.
Snowfall has now finished, weather services say, but the country is still dealing with the repercussions. The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF’s avalanche bulletin for Friday showed level 4 – the second highest rating – for a large area that includes Andermatt and Locarno in southeastern and southern Switzerland..
It warned of avalanche risks on steep, north-facing slopes, triggered by the weight burden of fresh snow.
“In addition, as a consequence of solar radiation and rising daytime temperatures, numerous moist avalanches can be expected. In the major areas of precipitation, these could be of great magnitude,” it said.
Skiers should stay on piste, the institute said.
MeteoSwiss, the national weather service, carried this warning as well, from Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of vehicles were blocked due to snow on the A2 road, around the Gotthard Tunnel – a major alpine transit route, on Thursday. Work to clear the area went on into Thursday night. Canton Uri police said that traffic conditions on the axis roads should get back to normal on Friday. Parts of Ticino, the Bernese Oberland and Valais were also affected.
According to Swiss public television SRF, some motorists encountered problems because they had already switched to summer tyres, meaning they had no grip on the roads. Locals in the San Bernadino region in Ticino said that such snowfall was not unusual for April.
Before the snow, there was sunny weather – it is also expected on Friday – and the spring flowers had been starting to bloom and blossom. In some places, they are now covered in snow.