Fresh avalanche threats end brief respite for the Alps | News | DW | 12.01.2019
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Fresh avalanche threats end brief respite for the Alps

Parts of Austria and Germany have received new avalanche warnings as heavy snowfall looks set to return. In Bavaria in southern Germany, thousands were working to clear snow from rooftops at risk of collapsing.

Avalanche risk monitors announced new warnings for Austria on Saturday after strong winds brought snowfall back to parts of the country overnight.

Fresh snowfall on Saturday, forecast to continue into Sunday, brought an end to a brief pause on Friday.

Heavy snow has brought parts of Europe to a standstill in the past few days, cutting off mountain villages, disrupting transport and triggering avalanches.

At least 21 weather-related deaths have been reported across the continent in the last 10 days.

Watch video 01:39

Avalanche danger in Austrian villages persists

The new wave of snow means snow on meadow slopes and in forests could suddenly start to slide — possibly even below an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) above sea level.

Avalanches could break loose on steep rocky terrain, the avalanche warning service for the state of Styria in southeastern Austria reported.

Across the Alps, safety agencies kept the avalanche threat level at high, but it was downgraded to lower levels in some spots on Saturday, including in Germany's Berchtesgaden.

Thousands work to remove snow

In southern Germany, workers were making the most of a break in the bad weather to try and clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads on Saturday.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder said the state would send an additional 500 police officers out to assist the worst-affected areas.

"There's no need for panic, but there are grounds for serious concern," Söder said in the southern Bavarian Alpine town of Bad Tölz.

Söder said the nearly 5,000 officials currently deployed are mainly focused on removing snow from roofs that are at risk of collapsing.

In the German Alps and the Bavarian Forest region, between 20 centimeters and 50 centimeters (7.8 inches and 19 inches) of snow are expected at 600 meters above sea level.

Strong winds of up to 70 kilometers an hour are expected in the foothills of the Alps, while in the Bavarian Forest speeds could reach 100 kilometers an hour. Snow drifts are to be expected, according to the German weather service DWD.

The icy weather disrupted flights at airports, including in Munich and Frankfurt, with around a hundred flights canceled on Friday.

law/sms (AP, dpa)

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