Winter of Terror

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Clearing the road from Zernez to Brail
Ruined hamlet Lü Daint in the Val Müstair

The Winter of Terror was the three-month period during the winter of 1950–1951[1] when an unprecedented number of avalanches took place in the Alps, Austria–Switzerland border.[2] The series of 649 avalanches killed over 265 people and caused large amounts of damage to residential and other human-made structures.[3][unreliable source?]

Damage and casualties[edit]

Austria suffered the most damage and loss of human life with 135 killed and many villages destroyed.[4] Thousands of acres of economically valuable forest in both Austria and Switzerland, were also damaged during the period.[2]

The Valais canton of Switzerland suffered 92 human deaths, approximately 500 cattle deaths, and destruction of 900 human-made structures. As in Austria, economically important forests were also damaged during the period.[5]

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

Causes[edit]

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 two- to three-day period. More than 600 buildings were destroyed and over 40,000 people were buried under snow.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williams, Florence (4 December 2005). "Look Out Below". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b "Deadliest Avalanches In History". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  3. ^ "Winter of Terror (1950-51): 259 Avalanche Deaths in the Alps".
  4. ^ Rapp, Irene (12 December 2010). "180.000 Daten für mehr Sicherheit". TT.com (in German). Innsbruck, Austria: New Media Online GmbH. Retrieved 2011-01-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Tufty, B. (1978) 1001 Questions Answered about Earthquakes, Floods, Avalanches and Other Natural Disasters, Courier Dover, p133, ISBN 0-486-23646-3
  6. ^ "Force of Nature - Death in the Alps". BBC Corp. Retrieved 2008-03-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)