Avalanche risk high after severe storms

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Several communities throughout Norway were put on avalanche alert on Thursday after heavy storms and strong winds dumped metres of unstable snow. Sogn, Jotunheimen, Voss, Hallingskarvet, Hemsedalfjella, Røldal and Rauland were all put on level three alert, which the Norwegian Avalanche Centre (Snøskredvarslingen) lists as a “considerable” danger level.

Communities between Alta, Lofoten and Narvik in northern Norway were put on “moderate” level two alert, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The highest danger rating is the rarely used “very high” level five alert.

“We advise people to avoid the areas where fresh drifting snow has blown in, until the snow has stabilised,” warned the centre’s Andreas Haslestad. The centre’s website (external link, in English) details the most dangerous areas in each zone. People are urged to avoid terrain steeper than 30 degrees, and only hike or ski well-known routes where they can read the avalanche danger.

Despite favourable temperatures, the snow is unlikely to stablize until the wind dies down. “Large parts of Norway are very different from year to year,” said Haslestad. “There’s no persistent weak layer in the snow pack, so the danger rating will fluctuate much more. The dangerous situation we have now will stabilize faster.”

Meanwhile many mountain passes in southern Norway remained closed on Thursday, or were only passable in vehicle convoys. State transport authorities urged drivers to check the routes they planned to travel, ensure they had enough food and petrol to withstand delays, and put off unnecessary travel until the storm passed.

newsinenglish.no staff