Item: Avalanche cycles in austria – an analysis of the greatest events in the last 50 years
Title: Avalanche cycles in austria – an analysis of the greatest events in the last 50 years
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2006 International Snow Science Workshop, Telluride, Colorado
Authors: Peter Höller
Abstract: This paper deals with an analysis of major avalanche cycles in Austria. In particular the effects of certain weather situations on avalanche cycles are investigated. During the last 50 years an average of 30 persons per year were killed by avalanches in Austria. About one third of all avalanche fatalities occurred as a result of so-called “catastrophic avalanches”. Such avalanches are able to affect developed areas and frequently cause higher damage than in the backcountry. The greatest avalanche cycles in Austria were in 1950/51 with 135 fatalities in total and 1953/1954 with 143 fatalities. The last major cycle was in February 1999, which was characterized by three storm periods and by a huge number of avalanches in the western part of the Tyrol; in Galtür 31 persons were killed, in Valzur 7 fatalities have to be noted. The findings show that in two third of all investigated avalanche cycles a northwesterly oriented frontal zone was the influencing factor. The remaining cycles were released by low-pressure areas over central Europe and the mediterranean sea, respectively. Hence almost all major events (with the most fatalities) occurred in the northern parts of the Austrian Alps.
Keywords: avalanche accidents, avalanche cycles, avalanche climatology
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