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Wed. 19.12.2018
update today 7:27 (Michael Butschek - translated by Jeffrey McCabe)

Limited danger zones due to snowdrifts and gliding snow problem



Avalanche danger above about 2200 m is MODERATE, below that altitude LOW. The NW winds of recent days and southerly foehn wind in the Tauern region have generated snowdrift patches, thin and of limited reach, but easily triggerable, creating a danger of falling. In addition, older snowdrifts are a threat. Trigger points are mostly in transitions from shallow to deep snow. Glide-snow avalanches are possible on very steep grassy slopes.

Avalanche Danger

At high and high-alpine altitudes, MODERATE avalanche danger stems from snowdrifts in steep ridgeline terrain. The drifts are limited spatially, thin and easily recognized assuming good visibility, causing mainly a danger of forcing a fall. They occur most often in NW-N-S facing terrain. The snowdrifts of last week can most easily trigger (generally by large additional loading) in transitions from shallow to deep snow. Today in the foehn lanes of the Tauern, small, thin but easily triggered snowdrifts will be generated by the southerly wind: thus, avalanche prone locations on north-facing slopes, in isolated cases in forested zones.
Naturally triggered avalanches: small glide-snow avalanches on grassy slopes steeper than 45° and generally below about 2500 m.

Snow Layering

The snowpack is stable by and large, mostly well settled. Frequently powder snow can still be found. Crests and ridges are usually windblown. Gullies are filled to the brim with drifts. In high alpine areas near ridgelines, the NW wind has deposited drifts on east and south-facing slopes. Furthermore, the southerly foehn wind has generated small-reach snowdrifts in pass areas of the Tauern above the timberline.
Potential fracture points for slab avalanches are found near the surface on S/W facing slopes where the surface hoar has been covered; beneath the melt-freeze crusts; and in isolated cases in the more deeply embedded layers inside the snowpack at the borderline to the November snow above about 2400 m.
On steep, grass-covered slopes the snowpack is sliding as a single mass over the ground. Glide cracks are often seen as an indicator of the threat.

Alpine Weather Forecast (ZAMG Salzburg)

Wide-ranging and compact high-altitude cloudbanks will veil the sun today, light conditions will become diffuse. However, it will remain dry. Winds will be moderate from southwest to west, in the high alpine regions of the Tauern brisk southerly winds will be blowing. Temperature at 2000 m between -3 and +1 degree, at 3000 m between -7 and -4 degrees. In the latter part of the day, temperatures will drop slightly.
Tomorrow, Thursday, visibility will often be impaired due to low lying cloud and snowfall during the morning. Plus, there will frequently be a brisk, in high alpine regions of the Northern Alps strong, westerly wind. In the afternoon it will become dry and a bit sunnier, visibility will improve noticeably. The amounts of fresh snow will be small, not much more than a few centimeters is anticipated. Temperature at 2000 m: -4 degrees; at 3000 m: -11 degrees.

Short Term Development

A little fresh snow, a little wind will result in fresh danger zones on east-facing steep slopes: MODERATE danger in places.

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