Avalanches rank among the greatest natural hazards in the Alpine region. They can affect houses, settlements and transportation routes, as well as people engaging in winter sports.
Avalanches are sliding or falling snow masses. They are caused by instabilities in the snowpack. Avalanches occur mostly in steep terrain. The formation of avalanches is facilitated by heavy snowfall, strong wind or a significant rise in temperature. Avalanches can be released naturally (without human intervention) or by people. In 90 percent of cases, avalanches are triggered by the victims. In settlements and on transportation routes, the local authorities ensure the safety of the population. Those who engage in winter sports beyond the boundaries of marked and open pistes, or cross-country ski or hiking trails, are responsible for their own safety.