In a rare move, the Swiss institute for snow and avalanche research (SLF) has assessed the avalanche risk for a large area of the Alps stretching from the east of the Bernese Oberland to the canton of Graubünden at level 5 – the highest risk level.
Under level 5 conditions, the risk of avalanches is “very high”. According to information on the SLF website, in locations at level 5 risk, “numerous very large and extremely large natural avalanches [that is, not caused by human interference] can be expected.” These can reach roads and settlements in valleys.
The SLF warns people to only engage in winter sports on open runs and trails.
In an interview with Bern newspaper BernerZeitung, Kurt Winkler from the SLF stressed that skiing on open ski pistes is not a problem at any time as these are treated like roads and are closed as soon as there is any danger. But he added going off piste was not advisable for people who did not have expertise in assessing avalanche risk.
The SLF alert [in English here] comes after heavy snow across parts of the Swiss Alps in recent days.
The town of Disentis in Graubünden was cut off from the outside world on Monday while a number of train lines in the southeastern canton were also replaced by buses including the stretch from Chur to Arosa and the line between Klosters Platz and Davos Platz.
Meanwhile, schools in part of eastern Switzerland´s Toggenburg region were set to be closed on Monday and Tuesday with authorities saying they couldn't guarantee the safety of children on their way to class.
The Alps are set to see heavy snow through Monday although conditions should slowly improve on Tuesday. Perfect ski weather is forecast for Wednesday in many places.