Officials raise avalanche warning in northern Italian mountains

Jan. 9 (UPI) — Officials in northern Italy have raised their avalanche warning to alert level five, signaling the strong possibility of snow slide.

Italian environmental agency Arpa said the risk of an avalanche in the northwestern mountains is “very strong.”

Fresh snow is so dense that it has made slopes of the mountains extremely unstable, the agency said. Authorities warned of “possible spontaneous avalanches of medium and large dimensions that could impact roads or infrastructure in the valleys below.”

Officials said the danger will continue through Tuesday and should gradually lessen as humidity reduces.

Heavy snow and rainfall has disrupted traffic across northern Italy.

On Monday, roads to the ski resorts of Cervinia and Cogne, both in Valle d’Aosta to the northwest of Piedmont, were closed due to avalanche concerns. No injuries were reported in the avalanche that isolated Cogne.

Two skiers, an 11-year-old German girl and her mother, were killed in an avalanche last week in Val Venosta, in the northern region of Alto Adige.

Also, a British snowboarder is missing in the French Alps after going out alone for a run after spending the day on the mountain with his family.

Emergency workers said the weather and the avalanche risk was too high to send out search parties yet and helicopters cannot fly out due to reduced visibility.

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