Germany raises avalanche alert after skiier deaths

Heavy snowfall in southern Germany and the deaths of skiers prompted authorities Sunday to raise the avalanche alert warning in the Bavarian Alps to the second-highest level.

Germany raises avalanche alert after skiier deaths
Rescue workers searched on Saturday for a woman who was buried by an avalance in the Teisenberg mountain range near Bavaria. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian avalanche warning service said it had boosted the alert level to four on a scale of five, warning of a “great danger of avalanches in the Bavarian Alps”.

A 20-year-old woman died Saturday after she was buried by an avalanche on the Teisenberg mountain range in Upper Bavaria, near the Austrian border.

Five other people in her ski group were unharmed.

In Wackersberg near Bad Tölz in Upper Bavaria, a 44-year-old skier was killed by falling branches on Sunday evening. The man was hit by a crown of trees that had broken off under the snow load, police said.

The man was immediately dead. According to police, he was travelling alone. Subsequent skiiers found him and alerted the emergency services.

On Sunday, two German skiers died in avalanches in the Austrian mountains. Both died in the western state of Vorarlberg, bordering Germany, the police reported

Meteorologists said they expected the region, already hit by days of heavy snow, to see a further 10 to 40 centimetres of snow by Monday.

A thick blanket of snow snarled rail and road traffic across the state of Bavaria over the weekend, while Munich airport was forced to cancel 130 flights on Saturday.

The situation at the airport eased on Sunday, with 15 flights scrapped by mid-afternoon and others facing minor delays, a spokeswoman told AFP.

Snow staying strong on Monday

By Monday morning there were several road closures throughout Bavaria due to the danger of avalanches. Throughout the German alps, the second highest avalanche warning level went into effect. Further snowfalls have been announced for the next few days.

There was heavy traffic by Siegsdorf on Sunday in Bavaria, where trees had fallen onto the road. Photo: DPA

During the night on Monday, up to 20 centimeters of fresh snow are possible in the Berchtesgadener Land district and up to five centimeters in the Allgäu, according to a meteorologist from the German weather service. He warned of avalanches and snow breaks like falling branches.

In several counties as well as in Lindau, classes were due to be cancelled at many schools on Monday. Authorities, fire brigades and auxiliaries were expected to try to get the public transport system up and running again during the day.

Due to trees that had fallen onto the overhead lines under the snow load, there were numerous transit breakdowns and closures over the weekend.


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2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: 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.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: 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.