5. What could be the consequences of avalanches?

Avalanche is a nivo-meteorological incident. If all factors (meteorologic, topographic, snow cover…etc) are in place, the avalanche occurs. Depending on climatic condition, return period varies from few times per year to once in a few centuries.

Avalanches, according to their intensity (or magnitude), can cause more or less heavy damage to structures and infrastructures, ultimately leading to their complete destruction. Therefore, wherever vulnerable elements are exposed to the avalanche threat, it becomes essential that territorial planning carefully evaluates the actual hazard level, in case organizing protection measures against future events. Moreover, avalanches can directly affect people, injuring or even killing them. More and more frequently, the media report of avalanches injuring or killing people responsible for their triggering; this happens very often in backcountry skiing, whenever skiers trigger the rupture of the snow pack, already naturally instable

Figure 7: Avalanche accident: a skier has been caught by an avalanche, but luckily his companions could free him from the heavily compacted snow that buried him. Source: www.pistehors.com
Figure 8 - The avalanche disaster of Galtuer, Austria, occurred on the 20th January 1999, caused by severe snow storms that heavily increased the snow load on the slopes, favoring widespread snow pack instability. Source: www.wz-newsline.de