Weather – Alps: danger of snow slides, disturbed traffic

Heavy snowfall in the Alps increases the risk of avalanches and disrupts road traffic.

Buses blocked by snow in Geneva on January 12, 2021.


Snowfall and wind have greatly increased the avalanche danger in the Alps. It was qualified Tuesday as high (degree 4) between Lötschental (VS) and Surselva (GR) by the Institute for the Study of Snow and Avalanches (SLF) and the Federal Institute for Research on the forest, snow and landscape (WSL). In the rest of the Alps and the Jura, the risk is level 3.

Heavy snowfall was expected especially in the north and east of the country overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. From 30 to 50 centimeters of fresh snow were forecast by SLF for the north of the Alps, from 20 to 30 centimeters in the rest of the alpine arc and the Jura.

By Friday, the quantities could rise to 120 centimeters in the Alpine arc, or even more in places, according to SRF Meteo. The heaviest falls are expected overnight Wednesday through Thursday.

Road incidents

Tuesday’s rains have already caused numerous incidents on the roads and lane closures. From 12 noon, heavy snowfall fell on the canton of Vaud, causing chaos on the road network, indicates the cantonal police in a press release received at the end of the evening.

From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., more than 200 calls reached the Vaud police headquarters and 55 accidents were announced, she said. No serious injuries are however to be deplored. Traffic conditions were difficult in places but the situation returned to normal during the evening.

On the German side, the Bernese police recorded some 50 accident reports between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. At least six people were injured. Between Biel (BE) and Delémont (JU), traffic jams were observed on the A16 motorway, where chains were compulsory. Rail traffic has also been affected, particularly in Seeland (BE). In particular, trains have been removed.

In the canton of Lucerne, two people were injured following a head-on collision between two cars on a snow-covered road. A motorist was also slightly injured in the canton of Schaffhausen, after colliding with an oncoming vehicle.

Impacted railway lines

The Zurich-St. Gallen line was interrupted between Elgg (ZH) and Wil (SG), Railinfo reported. Rail traffic between Weissbad and Wasserauen in Appenzell Innerrhoden was also disrupted by high winds. On the A2 motorway between Göschenen (UR) and the Ripshausen rest area, heavy goods vehicle traffic was blocked by snow, according to the TCS.

The Gotthard tunnel was temporarily closed in the evening due to a technical problem. According to Viasuisse, the disturbance was unrelated to the snowfall.


Posted today at 00h12

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