The avalanche risk is currently high in Switzerland, according to WSL, a research institute that monitors avalanche risk in Switzerland.
The area stretching from the border with Liechtenstein across to and including much of the Bernese Oberland is at greatest risk. Avalanche risk in this region is at Level 4 anywhere above 1,600m, said WSL. The avalanche risk across the remainder the Swiss Alps and the Jura range is at Level 3.
Level 4 is defined as “high” and Level 3 “considerable”.
According to WSL, there are large quantities of fresh snow and wind-drifted snow lying on top of a weakly bonded old snowpack layer. A single skier or hiker could very easily set off an avalanche, it warned in its avalanche bulletin for 16 January 2021.
Ski touring and other off-piste activities, including snowshoe hiking, call for extensive experience in the assessment of avalanche danger and are advised against, said the service.
Whumpfing sounds and the formation of shooting cracks when stepping on snowpack should serve as an alarm indicating danger, said WSL.
Avalanches have fallen in certain parts of Switzerland, in particular between Brienz and Interlaken. The search and rescue service Rega has been monitoring the region from the air to make sure there are no avalanche victims, according to RTS. Swiss Rail has stopped some services for safety reasons, however, none of its infrastructure has been affected.