Avalanche in the Austrian Alps

A deadly avalanche has occurred in the Austrian Alps, killing four skiers on a tour. The avalanche occurred on Jochgrubenkopf mountain which is 8,050 feet high, and it lasted for 2,300 feet creating snow banks that were up to 40 feet deep. According to the BBC, avalanche risks at the time were low, but a layer of fresh snow on top of layers of unstable snow triggered the avalanche. Austrian officials reported that fourteen people have been killed by avalanches in Austria this winter.

The fact that the risk of an avalanche was low goes back to our discussions of risk. Certainly people do not worry about low risks frequently, because there just is not a large chance that those events will occur. Similarly, thousands of people ski worldwide each year, yet very few of those are killed or injured by avalanches. That is to say that even when risk is low, there is always a possibility of that event occurring anyways. To help gain a better understanding of avalanches and what different risk levels look like, a Swiss group has put out several diagrams, pictures, and videos to help education people about avalanches, which is an excellent form of hazard mitigation. Here is the website:  https://www.whiterisk.ch/en/explore#u=01-11


Image courtesy of the BBC.




One thought on “Avalanche in the Austrian Alps

  1. Hi!
    Your explanation of this avalanche was really interesting to learn about. You explained how the avalanche occurred and how little the risk is that this event would take place. It got me thinking about the complexity theory and I am curious to see if Austrian officials will change the way they regulate usage of their ski slopes. Some ways would be measuring out the amount of snow to have a good understanding of how much new fresh powder is more ricky for avalanches to occur and maybe even certain types of snow.
    I did some research and found hat different types of snow are heavier and so I am sure that impacts when an avalanche occurs and even its intensity. So maybe if the officials could also some how identify the type of snow that accumulates they can better determine the risk of their slopes being used the day after a snow storm. Another part of the complexity theory goes into how people respond post natural disaster. It would be interesting to learn more about what steps the Austrian officials took and if there are suggestions for people who are out skiing and are in a hazardous environment. Granted it is probably too hard to run from an avalanche but I’m curious to know if there are certain things one could do to better their chances in survival in a situation like that.

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