Heavy snowfall hits parts of Austria and Italy, large avalanche engulfs Martell Valley

Heavy snowfall hits parts of Austria and Italy, large avalanche engulfs Martell Valley

Extreme weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and snow are affecting parts of central Europe, including Austria, Switzerland and Italy over the past couple of days, causing floods, landslides and notable avalanches. Similar weather, with widespread heavy rain and snow, extreme in places, is expected to continue affecting the continent at least over the next 2 weeks.

One person died after a landslide in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Carinthia Land, central-southern Austria, while 2 other people have been injured by a mudslide event near Salzburg, DG ECHO reports.

Several landslides have been reported Drautal, Carinthia Land and Gegendtal, central Austria. Some households are still cut off from electric power supply.

Heavy snowfall has also triggered avalanches in South Tyrol, Italy, leaving many valleys inaccessible, but the situation at the time is going back to normal. 

A large avalanche came hurtling across a street in the town of Martell Valley on November 17. The event was captured on a video by a resident, as the huge slab of snow rolled, carrying trunks, branches, and other debris.

"We got evacuated because it's possible that there will arrive some more. All the streets in our valley are closed now," said Christian Gruschler, the local who took the footage.

The avalanche warning service showed the South Tyrol area in red, which means "numerous large and, in many cases, very large natural avalanches are to be expected as the precipitation becomes more intense."

Gurschler said rescue teams and volunteers from Martell Valley came and assessed the situation.

In Bologna province (Budrio), the break of the Idice river bank caused a pre-emptive evacuations of 300 people, while a destructive tornado hit Grosseto Province, Tuscany Region on November 17.

Heavy snow also hit parts of Switzerland on November 16 and 17, bringing the monthly total up to 710 mm (28 inches) in Santa Maria, in the country's east. This broke the previous record of 690 mm (27 inches), also set in the same area in 1959.

According to the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, there was "a great deal of snowfall" across the southern ridges of the Alps over the last three days. As much as 300 mm (12 inches) was recorded in some areas of the country.

snowfall-switzerland-wsl-nov-2019

Image credit: WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF

More heavy rain and high elevation snow are expected across the continent at least over the next two weeks, in places extremely heavy.

Featured image credit: Christian Gruschler

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