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Snow and avalanche 2017/18

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@davidof, @clarky999, sorry didn't want to make light of the situation. Just seemed a macabre.

Would people know what it meant. If you see a black flag, what do you do.. run?
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I think there are some differences between different countries.

I Northern Norway today the avalanche risk is 4:

http://www.varsom.no/en/avalanche-bulletins/

At the meteoalarm this translates to code red:

http://meteoalarm.eu/

In the Thabor region in France the avalanche risk today is 5 !

http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches/hautes-alpes/avdept05

Still, it is only a code orange for that area on the meteoalarm....

In the last couple of weeks when the avalanche risk has been 4 in Switzerland, it has been a code red
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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@davidof, Thanks for posting that photo of the Supertignes building in Tignes. I was chatting with some people yesterday and they didn't believe me. The only photo I have is in the Tignes Offiical History, its very small and taken from the front. I may even get a couple of beers out of it!
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Just seen this on MeteoAlpes - no casualties thank goodness.

https://montblanclive.com/actus/houches-avalanche-sest-declenchee-matin-souffle-ressenti-jusqua-route-blanche
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Cogne and several smaller valleys in Aosta have the access roads closed, also the main road down the valley sr26 is blocked by a mudslide.
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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.
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Zermatt 13k cutoff is the top global headline on the Dailymail today.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5250315/13-000-tourists-TRAPPED-Swiss-ski-resort.html
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For the record the sr26 is fully open now.
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1 dead, 2 missing, on piste avalanches and skiers caught in Val d'Isere despite the risk being at 5/5

http://pistehors.com/series-of-avalanches-across-alps-and-pyrenees-25259568.htm

Note: All the ski tourers in the Pyrenees incidents were equipped with avalanche beacons and snow shovels, experienced and local to the area. The risk was 3/5
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This is the La Baraka restaurant at the top of the Chamole chair


And here on the live webcam is some folks trying to dig it out http://webtv.feratel.com/webtv/?design=v3&cam=6312

Actually, they seem to be clearing the roof first. The snow looks to be very heavy.
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@davidof, was the solaise lift open despite the 5/5 rating or did the guy go up himself?
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Steilhang wrote:
@davidof, was the solaise lift open despite the 5/5 rating or did the guy go up himself?


Yes they opened up some lifts late in the morning.
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Seen that there was an avalanche in Les Houches down on to the road and a couple of chalets. Now you'd think Les Houches would be safe!
http://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2018/01/09/avalanche-aux-houches-une-quinzaine-de-chalets-impactes-montagne-neige

Today I was skiing more or less the same slope where I was avalanched last year and lost my ski, though this time I took a slightly different route!

Have to say that the FatMap app is quite interesting where they give the avalanche risk zones - I'll post some pics soon.

3 out of 5 here but still one lift closed that gives access to a lot of stuff and could hear a lot of blasts going on.
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So this is the FatMap perspective of the slope. The black and yellow line is in effect a traverse and you can drop down and ski a line to the piste marked below.



Then this is the avalanche risk area - and I was probably caught in the wee tiny area of red in the middle of the image - it is a really good app!



And then skiing some demons out!

http://youtube.com/v/JzvmZeVCvR0
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Bonneval Sur Arc this am





photos Alain Duclos http://data-avalanche.org/
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Weathercam wrote:


Then this is the avalanche risk area - and I was probably caught in the wee tiny area of red in the middle of the image - it is a really good app!




An important part of route planning is knowing the areas above 30 degrees, at least in terms of being aware of the crux points and then taking suitable steps. At one time we used these



but apart from Fatmap there are also lots of mapping tools to do this such as geoportail or skitrack.fr.

http://pistehors.com/french-maps-to-show-30-degree-slopes-24642105.htm

of course these are just potential starting points for slab avalanches, the slide could run much further.
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Snow depths at l'Alpe d'Huez



and Tignes



below 1500 meters snow cover is below average.
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KenX and I were first down the glorious Off Piste Itinerary that is Montagnolle (where I went off my cliff a while back).

Maybe has to be the best ever run I've done in Serre Chevalier, though if you were being uber fastidious the powder maybe could have been lighter and deeper wink

Think after that we now know why they did not open the top Yret chair that gives you access to it.

After the main run there is a gnarly run out, quite often there are slides on to the track but the size of the ones that obviously have just gone were huge never seen them like that!

They however could well have been controlled over the last couple of days as it is a popular run.

What's interesting is looking around out of resort could not spot any natural slides as you'd expect to see some natural activity / purges, but there again we did not have massive accumulations and not too much in the way of rain compared to elsewhere.

Certainly has been three good days, though we only tend to ski the mornings.

Might have to start doing some slack county to keep on scoring untracked, though there's a group of 24 young skiers I've come across these past couple of days, who if I understood correctly are all aspiring guides.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Thu 11-01-18 13:37; edited 1 time in total
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davidof wrote:
Snow depths at l'Alpe d'Huez



and Tignes



below 1500 meters snow cover is below average.


Great charts ! - do you have the links to where they came from on the Meteo France website ? Do they have them for other resorts too.
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sheffskibod wrote:


Great charts ! - do you have the links to where they came from on the Meteo France website ? Do they have them for other resorts too.


Sorry they are not on the website AFAIKS, will look into it further. Meteo France are very mean with this kind of data, they see it all as commercially valuable.
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In the Valle d'Aosta there was more natural activity today than I noticed over the last couple of days, with a couple of small full depth slides at the 2300m mark triggering around midday.

However, there is visible evidence of the snow settling with cones forming around the tops of saplings.

Where the Gazex has been triggered there are some significant crown walls. There is a lot of snow up there.
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http://youtube.com/v/K3Vgba_iPfk
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Rock fall across the road at Col de Forclaz, impassable. Not on Bison Fute or on sign at Martigny when we came up.
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A lot of surface hoar on the newly opened off piste today in Aosta. More snow forecast mid next week.
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A lot of fresh snow is expected on Tuesday in the Western Alps accompanied by very strong south-west to westerly winds which will form windslab, principally on North aspects. Below 2000/2200m the snowpack is pretty stable due to the rain and refreeze so the risk should be limited to during the storm and shortly thereafter. At higher altitudes there are some weak layers especially on north facing slopes so expect things to be delicate for some time. Worth keeping an eye on the bulletin for your area to see how things evolve.

Also note what AAT said about localized hoar layers.
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IN Tirol the snowpack is generally very stable, level 1 almost everywhere but L2 above 2200m in some places. The rain and warmth did their job. Fantastic touring conditions over the weekend with sunny powder everywhere.

Biggest problem is glide avalanches in steep sunny grassy slopes - the cracks (fischmaule - fish mouths - in German) are very obvious and easy to avoid.

There is some surface hoar development (particularly on shady slopes), and as winds rise today transporting snow this will require a bit more caution.

Generally the biggest problems are in Ost Tirol, and worse the further south you go. More surface hoar, and some isolated old snow problems (although to quote the avi report "triggering due to this problem will be rare").

However winds will strengthen today and a lot of new snow is due (particularly in western regions like Arlberg, Ischgl, etc) so the risk level will certainly rise through the week.
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Up to a meter of fresh snow over the last couple of days in the Northern Alps above 1500 meters. Avalanche risk Considerable to High. Very strong winds last night that have calmed now.

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clarky999 wrote:

Biggest problem is glide avalanches in steep sunny grassy slopes - the cracks (fischmaule - fish mouths - in German) are very obvious and easy to avoid.


Geules de baleine in French, if you are interested (whale gobs). Glide avalanches - the major problem I see it is no more snow on the slope ! You'd have to be very unlucky to get caught unless you spend all day skiing avalanche couloirs.
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davidof wrote:
clarky999 wrote:

Biggest problem is glide avalanches in steep sunny grassy slopes - the cracks (fischmaule - fish mouths - in German) are very obvious and easy to avoid.


Geules de baleine in French, if you are interested (whale gobs). Glide avalanches - the major problem I see it is no more snow on the slope ! You'd have to be very unlucky to get caught unless you spend all day skiing avalanche couloirs.


Whale gobs, brilliant! Laughing

There are quite a few around here on south-facing slopes (like Nordkette) around 1900m or so, but yeah, below ~1500m not much snow left on the sunny sides now.
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I dug a quick pit at around the 1800m today, Northerly aspect. 2 distinct sliding layers, the first was the buried surface hoar as expected, the second a little lower in the snowpack was probably a rain crust maybe formed during the last storm. Below that everything was pretty solid with the indistinct beginnings or remains of depth hoar near the ground.

This in the Aosta region.
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25 year old Swedish skier died in an avalanche in Gulmarg today or yesterday Sad
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Second deadly avalanche this season in Ovronnaz yesterday.

https://www.thelocal.ch/20180119/one-dead-as-avalanche-sweeps-away-skiers-in-valais
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Quote:

Glide avalanches - the major problem I see it is no more snow on the slope ! You'd have to be very unlucky to get caught unless you spend all day skiing avalanche couloirs.


That's true isn't it? A couple of times a guide has taken is straight over the cracks to ski the slope below explaining, I think, that the pack should be very stable - the glide would have likely triggered any weak layers etc already?
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Quote:
Strong instability on the cold slopes between 1800-2300 m! Attention in the forest clearings!


Quote:
The situation for hiking activities is critical for the double problem:
1- at lower altitudes and in clearings that are usually always considered safer areas, due to the incorporated surface hoar,
2- at higher levels for new accumulations that will be covered by the new snowfall.
To make the situation worse, the lack of visibility and the strong wind expected


From the current Aosta report.

Initially they suggested the buried surface hoar wasn't a problem but that's changed.

Is the situation different on the other side of the alpine ridge ?
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Quite a bit of natural avalanche activity over the last 24 hours. The Tignes Bourg St Maurice road was blocked. Funny how they never announce risk 5 on a changeover day, but probably should.

In the Southern Alps Meteo France hasn't produced a proper avalanche bulletin since Thursday, which is poor given the conditions.

We had a bizarre thaw overnight with the zero isotherm going up to around 2000m but snow falling again now down to around 1000/1300 meters.

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Not sure if this is the other side of the same slide, but according to Radio Les Arcs it's on the road up to St Foy from yesterday evening

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rob@rar wrote:
Not sure if this is the other side of the same slide, but according to Radio Les Arcs it's on the road up to St Foy from yesterday evening



ooh that's a bit close!
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davidof wrote:
ooh that's a bit close!
I did think that. Wonder if he saw it before he hit it?
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Tracks on the road suggest that he/she steered left to avoid something.

Absence of tracks behind the car in the avalanche suggest it was already there when the last of the snow came down.
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altis wrote:
Tracks on the road suggest that he/she steered left to avoid something.

Absence of tracks behind the car in the avalanche suggest it was already there when the last of the snow came down.


Well spotted Inspector Barnaby!

I know someone who was buried by an avalanche in the Hautes-Alpes in his car, there were 4 of them in the car and buried 2 meters under snow.
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