Winter of Terror

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 an unprecedented number of avalanches took place in the Alps. The series of 649 avalanches killed over 256 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 destruction of 900 human-made structures. As in Austria, economically important forests were also damaged during the period.[3]

The Swiss town of Andermatt in the Adula Alps was hit by six 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 two- to three-day period. More than 600 buildings were destroyed and over 40,000 people were buried under snow.[3]


  1. ^ Williams, Florence (4 December 2005). "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 2011-01-04. 
  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.