Fresh snow in the Alps: what to look out for

In some regions, the long-awaited flakes have already fallen, and more snowfall is imminent this weekend. The weather conditions consisting of wind, fluctuating temperature ranges and, depending on the region, plenty of fresh snow promise an increased risk potential.

Against the background of the ski season with little snow so far and the associated longing for snowy days, the Association of German Mountain and Ski Guides (VDBS) advises restraint. Avalanche reports and weather services should definitely be consulted. If you want to refresh your knowledge beforehand, you can find it at Safety Academy Lab Snow, the digital knowledge platform of Ortovox, extensive and freely accessible content on the subject of avalanche awareness.

From the Ortovox Safety Academy: avalanche-forming factors

Snow situation as in November

"We are dealing with a snow cover that would normally be expected in November," explains Michael Schott, member of the VDBS board. “Many areas are snow-free or covered with very little snow.

The expected fresh snowfall cannot completely replace the snow that has been missing so far and only insufficiently cover obstacles such as stones, fences or bushes. They are difficult to spot, but can still lead to serious falls."

The weather conditions consisting of wind, fluctuating temperature ranges and, depending on the region, plenty of fresh snow promise an increased risk potential. Image: Ortovox
The weather conditions consisting of wind, fluctuating temperature ranges and, depending on the region, plenty of fresh snow promise an increased risk potential. Picture: Ortovox

Questionable snowpack structure

Where there is a closed snow cover, its structure is often unstable. At medium altitudes, a hard crust has often formed, which is a dangerous base for fresh snow and can encourage avalanches.

Weak snowpack structure at high altitudes: danger spots covered with snow are difficult to identify. Image: Ortovox
Weak snowpack structure at high altitudes: danger spots covered with snow are difficult to identify. Picture: Ortovox

The snowpack structure is also often weak at high altitudes, and due to the overall low snow depth, weak layers that are deeply snowed in can be disturbed in numerous places by winter sports enthusiasts in normal winters. These danger spots will be snowed over by the expected fresh snow and are therefore difficult to spot.

Ortovox safety lab
Regularly refreshing your knowledge is worthwhile in practice as well as in theory. with Safety Academy Lab Snow Ortovox offers a comprehensive digital knowledge platform for avalanche safety. Picture: Ortovox

Refresh your own knowledge: online and offline

If you want to refresh your knowledge, you can use the Ortovox Safety Academy Lab Snow a bundle of information. The digital knowledge platform offers high-quality content on the subject of avalanche knowledge, which has been completely revised in cooperation with the VDBS and safety and first-aid experts. The content is designed to be emotional and clear: clear, attractively animated and easy to navigate on a smartphone.

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Credits: Ortovox cover picture, text Ortovox press release

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