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Skiers stuck at the Stubai Glacier – Sölden also inaccessible

As an editor at Snow-Online I turned my hobby into my profession. Since September 2016 I have been in charge of the content. The mountains have always fascinated me. In winter, you can meet me in the ski areas not only on the downhill slopes, but also on the cross-country trails.

If you have any questions, you can always reach me by e-mail at: andrea.poschinger@tourispo.com

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last update on Nov 18, 2019

Continuing snowfalls on the mountain and heavy rain in the valley have caused serious trouble in the regions of Tyrol, Oberkärnten, South Tyrol and Salzburger Land. Fallen trees, avalanches, landslides and floods have made several valleys inaccessible. Among these valleys are also the ski areas of Sölden and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in the Ötztal, which had already opened for the season. The street to the Stubai Glacier was closed after an avalanche, leaving 250 people stuck there.

Van hit by avalanche runout

Many skiers had travelled to the reopened Stubai glacier to take advantage of the fresh snow, before the ski area closed at noon for security purposes.
© Webcam Stubaier Gletscher Many skiers had travelled to the reopened Stubai glacier to take advantage of the fresh snow, before the ski area closed at noon for security purposes.

Ski areas at the Mölltal, Kaunertal and Schnalstal Glaciers had already been closed on Friday due to avalanche danger. The Stubai Glacier, however, was reopened after two days on Sunday morning. The mountain currently has 250 centimeters (98 inches) of snow on its surface. The area was closed again on Sunday noon due to bad weather conditions and the skiers were sent back home.

That was when a van from Germany carrying six passengers was hit by the runout of an avalanche. Luckily, all occupants remained unharmed and were able to exit the vehicle on their own. The street was closed immediately after the accident.

Around 2 pm, an avalanche reached the road towards the Stubai Glacier. Several skiers were on their way home at that time.
© Endre Egrenyi Around 2 pm, an avalanche reached the road towards the Stubai Glacier. Several skiers were on their way home at that time.

All of the 250 people remaining at the Stubai Glacier were brought to the Glacier lifts at the hotel or the rooms at the mountain lifts. They will have to stay there at least until Monday, which is when the avalanche dispersion will make the street trafficable again.

Update Monday, 11/18/19: The road leading to the Stubai Glacier will be reopened at 2:30 pm (in the direction of Neustift, out of the valley). The enclosed guests will then be able to leave the area.

Road through Ötztal closed since 10 am

Due to avalanche danger, the highway between Längenfeld and Sölden was closed on Sunday morning already. The road closure was extended in the evening as the situation remained unchanged. A possible reopening will be decided on Monday morning. The area received 83 centimeters (33 inches) of fresh snow in the last 48 hours alone, causing the snow level on the mountain to grow to 275 centimeters (108 inches). Another 80 centimeters (31 inches) are predicted to fall by Tuesday.

>> Snow predictions for Austria

The Glacier ski area in Sölden had closed already on Friday, with the dangers of fresh snow masses deemed to high. Only the winter ski area, located below, continued to operate a couple of lifts. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, having started its season only last Thursday, closed on Sunday as well.

Update Monday, 11/18/19: The highway between Sölden and Längenfeld has been reopened. The road to the Gurgl ski area is passable again as well, while the road between Sölden and Vent remains closed.

More avalanches in Martell and Prägraten

Two more massive wet snow avalanches were registered on Sunday in in Prägraten in East Tyrol and Martell in South Tyrol. A Martell resident's video shows the powerful avalanche making its way through the village. Although nobody was hurt, several houses were damaged and had to be evacuated.

Civil protection alert after mudslides

While its snow causing chaos up in the mountains, valley areas in the Salzburger Land and Kärnten face high flood and mudslide dangers. Several houses have been evacuated, 3000 more households have no access to electricity. Many roads as well as most of the train tracks are closed due to the mudslides and fallen trees. Everyone in the area is advised strictly against driving on the road!

Update Monday, 11/18/19: The number of mudslides and floods has increased and more roads have been closed. Two houses were buried under mudslides. The Styrian village of Stadl an der Mur was declared a disaster area due to landslide risks.

>> All road closures in Austria

>> All road closures in South Tyrol

Ski tourers ignore dangers

Despite avalanche warnings for the southern side of the Alps being on the second-highest level, there have been reports of skiers taking off into the backcountry to go ski touring. They not only endanger their own lives, but also those of the mountain rescuers and the people that could be hit by their skis.

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