Pyrenees on highest avalanche alert

16th January 2013, by Abi Butcher

Grand Tourmalet, in the Pyrenees, has had 1m 50cm of snow in three days

Grand Tourmalet, in the Pyrenees, has had 1m 50cm of snow in three days

Parts of the French Pyrénées are on red alert following heavy snowfalls of more than 50cm in 24 hours.

The “alert rouge” – the highest avalanche warning - has been issued by Meteo France for the Haute-Pyrénées and the Pyrénées-Atlantic, due to the severe risk of avalanches burying roads and villages.

A local police spokesman told French TV station TFI: “There have been huge snow falls in these areas and avalanches could take an unusual trajectory and affect roads and isolated villages.”

Ski resorts in the area include Campan-Payolle, Cauterets, La Mongie/Baragès, St-Lary-Soulan, Font-Romeu, Les Angles, Piau Engaly, Val d’Azun and Peyragudes.

The route national 134 has already been hit by an avalanche, cutting off La Mongie, part of the Grand Tourmalet ski area after 1m 50cm snow fell in three days. It’s the first time an alert rouge has been issued for two departments, and six communes remain without electricity today.

Elsewhere, the avalanche risk in Switzerland is moderate following snowfalls over the weekend, and is expected to rise in the north and east of the country towards the end of the week. Most Austrian resorts, which received the least snow over the weekend, are currently on low risk.

In Canada, highways were closed across British Columbia last weekend after 80cm of snow fell in the Rockies and across Southern Alberta. The Canadian Avalanche Centre is warning skiers of the “considerable risk” of avalanche across the area, including the resorts of Whistler, Banff and Sunshine Village — asking them to take extra care and avoid backcountry areas where the avalanche risk is high.


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