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Galtür avalanche

The Galtür Avalanche occurred on 23 February 1999 in the Alpine village of Galtür, Austria. It took less than one minute to hit Galtür. At 50 m (164 ft) high and traveling at 290 km/h (186 mph), this powder avalanche hit with great force, overturning cars, ruining buildings and burying 57 people.

By the time rescue crews managed to arrive, 31 people – locals and tourists – had died. This avalanche was considered the worst Alpine avalanche in 40 years. Three major weather systems originating from the Atlantic accounted for large snowfalls totaling around four meters in the area.

’Freeze-thaw’ conditions created a weak layer on top of an existing snow pack, further snow was then deposited on top. This, coupled with high wind speeds created large snow drifts, caused roughly 170 000 tons of snow to be deposited.

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