A new, very active snow front pushes the avalanche danger in parts of Styria and Lower Austria to the highest level. 5 on a scale of 5, which is extreme in a lot of ways.
The snow cover is that unstable with avalanche danger 5 that spontaneous large avalanches are possible with potentially catastrophic consequences. Roads, train tracks, buildings or even (parts of) villages can be covered by spontaneous avalanches in such a situation. Fortunately, the experts have learned a lot since the 80s and they are no longer building houses for example on those parts of the mountain where the risk of catastrophic avalanches is present. In addition, roads are closed preventively to prevent passing cars being caught by an avalanche. The same applies to many ski areas if (parts of) the ski area runs the risk of being hit by large spontaneous avalanches.
The current extreme situation is the result of an episode of 14 days in which it is snowing almost continuously. As a result, the snow cover is already more than 400 cm thick in parts of Austria and many areas have already received more snow in these first 9 days of January than they normally get during the entire month of January.
In the north of Styria (click click for the avalanche message) and the south of Lower Austria (click click for the avalanche message) local avalanche services have issued avalanche danger 5. The current local avalanche danger is communicated in the avalanche forecast during the winter months every day. The avalanche forecast is therefore an indispensable tool if you want to go off-piste. In addition to the current avalanche danger in the form of a figure, it contains a range of data that are useful to you. For an explanation of the avalanche danger rating scale, click here.
More and more ski areas now temporarily close their lifts. Hochkar is now completely closed. During avalanche danger 5 it is no longer useful to go storm chasing in the above regions. There's simply too much snow, roads are closed and it's too dangerous. If you still want to go storm chasing, choose other areas in the Alps where the avalanche danger is not that high.
Those who travel to other areas should know that the avalanche danger in large parts of the northern Alps is HIGH (4 on a scale of 5). Only with the right knowledge and with the right gear you can ride powder in a responsible way.