Winter of Terror

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Andermatt in 2005. The town was hit by six avalanches within one hour during the Winter of Terror
Relief of the Alps

The Winter of Terror was the three-month period during the winter of 1950-1951[1] when a previously unrecorded number of avalanches took place in the Alps. The series of 649 avalanches killed over 265 people and caused large amounts of damage to residential and other human-made structures.

Damage and casualties[edit]

Austria suffered most damage and loss of human life with 135 killed and many villages destroyed.[2] Thousands of acres of economically valuable forest were also damaged during the period.

The Valais canton of Switzerland suffered 92 human deaths, approximately 500 cattle deaths and 900 human-made structures destroyed. As in Austria, economically important forests were also damaged during the period.[3]

The Swiss town of Andermatt located in the Adula Alps was hit by 6 avalanches within a 60 minute period resulting in 13 human deaths[4]


This period is thought to be a result of atypical weather conditions in the Alps high precipitation due to the meeting of an Atlantic warm front with a Polar cold front resulted in 3-4.5 metres of snow being deposited in a 2-3 day period. More than 600 buildings were destroyed and over 40,000 people were buried under snow.[3]


  1. ^ Williams, Florence (2005-12-04). "Look Out Below". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Rapp, Irene (12 December 2010). "180.000 Daten für mehr Sicherheit". (in German). Innsbruck, Austria: New Media Online GmbH. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Tufty, B. (1978) 1001 Questions Answered about Earthquakes, Floods, Avalanches and Other Natural Disasters, Courier Dover, p133, ISBN 0-486-23646-3
  4. ^ "Force of Nature - Death in the Alps". BBC Corp. Retrieved 2008-03-27.