Twenty six snow-related deaths have been recorded this year in areas across Europe, with many being avalanche fatalities or accidents due to intense winter conditions. Heavy snowfall has blanketed parts of the Alps in up to 7 feet of snow, but blissful powder days have been few and far between as danger remains high.
On January 12, near Lech Resort in Austria, three skiers were killed in an avalanche, with a fourth still remaining missing. The men—aged 57, 36, and 32—were visiting the area from Germany when they were caught in a slide after venturing off-piste. According to NBC News, they were geared with proper avalanche equipment, including airbags.
A 16-year-old boy was also killed in an avalanche in Austria on January 9. He was visiting the area from Australia. Additionally, a 62-year-old man was killed in Austria earlier in the week after falling while skiing and getting trapped in a snowbank.
Several ski areas and resorts in Austria have been forced to close due to fears of avalanches and unsafe conditions. Many roads have been closed as well, which has made it impossible for workers and visitors alike to travel, leaving many stranded. Mountain operations, like lift maintenance and grooming, have also been halted due to too much snow.
On January 13, two ski patrollers were killed in the French Alps at Morillon Ski Resort when two avalanche devices were accidentally detonated. According to U.S. News, the incident occurred during early-morning avalanche mitigation at the resort.
In Switzerland, an avalanche slammed through the windows of the Santis Hotel on January 10. Nobody was killed, but several people were injured. About 100 tourists had to be evacuated from the area the following day. Earlier in the week in Switzerland, a woman died due to injuries sustained in an avalanche on January 6.
An avalanche also plowed into a hotel in Germany near the Austrian border on January 14. No injuries or fatalities were reported. In Norway, near the city of Tromsø, four skiers were killed in a large avalanche two weeks ago. The fatalities included three Finnish skiers and one Swedish woman.
Avalanche danger and extreme winter conditions still remain high across Europe, with more snow predicted to be on the way in the coming days.