Heavy snow closes Brenner motorway

Heavy snowfall brought traffic on the Brenner motorway (A13) to a complete standstill for several hours on Thursday morning in Tyrol.

Heavy snow closes Brenner motorway
Snowploughs on the Brenner motorway. Photo: APA/Liebl/

Trucks formed long convoys in both directions and even snowploughs had trouble getting through.

Due to dangerous driving conditions and the need to clear snow the motorway was closed between the Brenner pass and Schönberg for a distance of around 20 km to all traffic for several hours, a spokeswoman for the Austrian motoring association (ÖAMTC) told the Austrian Press Agency.  

Trucks travelling in the direction of Italy were stopped at Vomp and had to park on the hard shoulder of the Inn Valley motorway.

The B182 road near Gries am Brenner also had to be closed to cars. There was some criticism of truck drivers. “We need road users to cooperate but some truck drivers insisted on overtaking slower vehicles and then of course couldn’t go any further – so we had a situation where trucks were parked across the entire carriageway,” one driver told local radio station ORF Tyrol.

There has been a weather warning since Wednesday for East Tyrol and Upper Carinthia – but with no major problems so far.

The Lienz basin has had heavy rain since Wednesday afternoon. The local fire department has been busy damming streams that threatened to burst their banks.

The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) has warned East Tyrol and Upper Carinthia to expect heavy rain in the coming days. Lesachtal, Gailtal and Drautal in Upper Carinthia are all at risk of floods and mudslides.

A woman in Innervillgraten, Lienz, lost control of her car due to heavy rain and ended up in a creek. The 49-year-old was rescued by the fire service and was uninjured.

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Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.