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At least 26 killed in weather-related incidents across Europe, new Arctic outbreak sets in

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At least 26 people have been killed in weather-related incidents across Europe over the past 10 days as freezing Arctic air and snowstorms swept over the continent. This is not the end, however, as another Arctic outbreak aims east-central Europe early next week.

Three skiers and two ski patrollers have been killed in the Alps over the weekend, bringing the number of people killed in weather-related incidents across Europe to 26. Most of the deaths occurred due to snow avalanches after heavy snow hit parts of Europe. 

Bodies of three German skiers were recovered near the ski resort of Lech am Arlberg, authorities said, adding that fourth person who was with them still remains missing.

The two ski patrollers died in the French Alps on Sunday, January 13 when the devices they used to trigger avalanches exploded as they were securing slopes.

Many ski resorts across Austria, Sweden and Germany, as well as villages, are isolated after heavy snow blocked roads and transport lines. 

Looking west at the French Alps, currently sitting on the edge of two weather systems, some light snow, wind and clouds are expected through the end of the day, followed by a period of very variable weather with some more light snow, sun, clouds, wind, cold and milder temperatures changing day by day, Henry Schneiwind from Henry’s Avalanche Talk told The Independent.

The two systems affecting the French Alps now are cold low-pressure drawing snow into Austria and high pressure over the Atlantic and the Azores. This is expected to persist until around January 20 or 21.

From then on, it looks like the jetstream will sink south and place the western Alps under a low-pressure weather influence, bringing the chance of more significant snowfall interspersed with sunny days.

A major snowstorm is expected to hit the northern Alps, especially northern and western Austria, southern Germany and east-central Switzerland.

"With the strong ridge over the Atlantic, a very deep through will move across north, east and central Europe from January 14 to 16, and bring another round of verfy cold airmass, new snowall in many areas and a very intense snowstorm into the Alps," Severe Weather Europe meteorologists said.

"With already an extreme amount of snow in many regions (locally 300-500 cm / 9.8 – 16.4 feet based on the latest reports), an additional 100 – 120 cm / 3.3 – 3.9 feet (locally even more) of fresh snow is expected through Tuesday morning, January 15. Life-threatening situation with major snow avalanche threat will worsen once the snowfall intensifies this weekend."

Featured image: Spectacular sunset over thick hard rime atop of Karkonosze, Śnieżka – punkt widokowy na Śnieżce, Poland on January 12, 2019. Credit: Marcin Miller, SWE

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