Zermatt on Tuesday morning. Photo: webcam image
Several villages in southern Switzerland, including the ski resort of Zermatt, were cut off from the outside world on Tuesday after extreme weather conditions raised the avalanche risk to the maximum level.
Both the road and the railway line to Zermatt were closed after the avalanche risk was raised to five, commune president Romy Biner-Hauser told Valais paper Le Nouvelliste
on Monday evening, however as yet the village has not had to be evacuated.
“The situation is being monitored every half hour and if things change we will take the necessary measures,” he said.
By Tuesday morning Swiss media
said the village was now suffering electricity black-outs, and that some 13,000 tourists were stranded in the ski resort, unable to leave.
All ski installations in Zermatt and Saas-Fee were closed on Tuesday morning due to the heavy snow and extreme conditions.
"We can't ski or go walking, but it's calm, a bit romantic," Janine Imesch, a spokesperson for the Zermatt area, told the media.
Two houses in St Niklaus, near Zermatt, were evacuated on Monday evening. Elsewhere in the canton of Valais the villages of Gondo and Saas were also cut off after landslides on the roads, while the road between St Luc and Zinal in the Val d'Anniviers was closed on Tuesday morning due to the high avalanche risk.
In recent days a foehn wind has brought mild temperatures and rain to the Swiss lowlands, however it's an entirely different story above 1,200m-1,600m altitude in the southern canton of Valais, where up to a metre of snow has fallen in the last few days. More is expected throughout Tuesday, according to MeteoNews
People took to social media to post photos and videos of the abundant snowfall, showing Zermatt and other villages blanketed in white.
By contrast, parts of Switzerland on Monday experienced temperatures far above the seasonal norm, with Altdorf in the canton of Uri hitting 17.6 degrees. Einsiedeln in Schwyz set a new January record with 14 degrees.