Very high risk of avalanches in the northern alps

Hello to all,

just a quick note to let people in other parts of the world know why there is recently no sota-activity from hams located in the northern alps region (southern germany and austria). Since the beginning of 2019 it has been snowing almost continuously in the provinces of Vorarlberg/Tyrol/Salzburg/Upper Austria/Lower Austria/Styria … in some of these parts of Austria we now have very high avalanche risk which is the highest on the European avalanche risk table:


The weather forecast promises more snow to come … so the situation will not get better in the next days. For german speaking hams here is a news article from ORF (austrian tv):

73 Martin, OE5REO


Southern Bavarian Alps as well:

Avalanche danger assessment
The avalanche danger in the Bavarian Alps is high.
The main threat still stems from loosely-packed snow and slab avalanches which can trigger naturally due to the enormous overlaying load of new snow on top of the thick old snowpack. Loose snow is entrained on the avalanche track, i.e., avalanches can grow to a very large size. At lower altitudes, the snowpack that is moist to the ground can start to glide in mountain forests with scattered stands or can also glide on the ground on smooth, steep grass-covered slopes. Exposed transportation routes are at risk.
In addition, large slab avalanches can be triggered even by a single skier. Avalanche prone locations are found primarily adjacent to ridgelines in wind-loaded steep terrain on north to east and southwest facing slopes, as well as in bowls and gullies filled with snowdrift deposits. Frequently, the snowdrift accumulations are covered by loose fresh snow and are difficult to detect. Beware of high sink-in depths!

Wind and precipitations abate only gradually. Especially the east of the Bavarian Alps will see another 50 cm of new snow by Thursday evening. The loose fresh snow will only form a weak bond with the thick old snowpack of the last days. The old snowpack has settled somewhat, but the weak intermediate layers in the area of snowdrift accumulations are still prone to trigger. At lower altitudes the snowpack is moist toward the ground and may start to glide.

Tips and outlook
Snowfall will diminish and the avalanche situation is expected to ease up somewhat in the course of the next few days. Backcountry skiing and freeriding tours away from secured and marked ski runs continue to require caution and deep knowledge of assessing avalanche risks on-site.

Australian teenager killed in avalanche in Austria

Andrew VK1AD

Not much snow in the south Steiermark, but the wind is very strong, so not much doing down here either.

Thanks for this heads-up!
I had planned quite a few skitouring activations, but as you say, it is currently unreasonably risky. The higher areas are problematic due to large amounts of snow moved by strong winds (and weak bindings above or below layers from hail, ice, or white frost). Normally, one could choose lower summits below the tree line; but this time there is so much snow on the branches that they may break and kill you unexpectedly. Actually, one mountaineer was killed near Bad Toelz from a large branch of a tree that suddenly came down.

Mountains are a great school for learning when it‘s time to wait.

Stay safe!


Hi Martin,
120km/h winds forecast for this evening - so no one should be up there or in the valleys under the summits as I’d say avalanches are becoming close to a certainty in the next couple of days.

73 Ed.

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I was on the Schweineck OE/ST-244 today, and whilst there is not much snow, the wind really picked up during the afternoon. It was howling as I came down. It seems we can add falling trees to the very high avalanch risk at the moment. Looks like I’ll head to the south Steiermark tomorrow where the wind is hopefully a bit lighter.

From todays Times:

At least 19 people have been killed in weather-related accidents in Europe this week, many of them by avalanches.

The Fernpass, one of the most important connections between Bavaria and Tirol, was closed yesterday and will not reopen until Tuesday for safety reasons.

In Switzerland a 300m-wide avalanche engulfed the dining room at the Santis hotel in Schwagalp, smashing windows. No one was injured.


a further danger are trees, which have a huge load of snow, collapsing under the weight and crushing people. Forestry operations have been suspended in Bavaria owing to the danger.

Activated OE/TI-517 today despite the avalanche risk of 4. It is inside a patrolled ski area so was safe. While skiing I saw three pine trees which had snapped under the weight of snow and collapsed onto the ski piste.

Take care out there.



Yes they’ve been trying to blow the snow off the trees by flying helicoptors over them so that the downdraft blows the snow off. They can’t do very many that way though.

Here in Southern Bavaria, the high winds are starting, so I wonder how things will look in the morning?

Worst winter snow nd storms now in 30 years.

73 Ed.

Thanks for the insight, Martin.

BTW, cant read your call without thinking of Oreo, the best selling cookie (biscuitOREO%20! ) in the US!

All Best, Ken


Risc level in the meanwhile is reduced to level 2 north of the alps and 3 in some areas south of the alps.

Hoping for nice wx for next weekend.

73, Joe

Hi Joe,
that’s great news on the reduced avalanche risks however we, at this side of the alps have been told to expect heavy snow falls again starting late Thursday and going through the weekend. Of course this was just a weather forecast and they are known to be wrong around here regularly!

But it’ll be wise to check local conditions where any activator is going over the next few days.

I was planning to do a simple activation tomorrow (to test out a new antenna) but with the ground so hard, I wont be able to get the mast base or guy pegs into the ground and operating when it’s under -6 degrees doesn’t need those problems. The plasma from the Coronal Ejection from yesterday, is due to hit tomorrow as well, so enjoy todays conditions as it’ll be a couple of days before the Ionospheric disturbances die down.

73 Ed.

As Joe already said, the avalanche risk level in the northern alps is now back to 2, which is normal for the season. What remains is an extraordinary amount of snow, several meters on some summits!

Enclosed a photo of the chapel on Hochfelln, DL/CG-014, from last Sunday:

I look forward to an excellent and very long skiing season!

73 Heinz


I just found out I lost my climbing skins. I’ve got to buy some more on Wednesday. I’m also looking forward to some winter activations now the wind is dropping.