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French Alps Face ‘Strong’ Avalanche Risk After Storm, Snowfall

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Avalanche Warning Signs
People prepare to ski down slopes next to signs warning of the danger of avalanches at the ski resort of Les Carroz in Araches-la-Frasse, eastern France on Dec. 26, 2013. Photographer: Denis Charlet/ /AFP via Getty Images

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- France’s mountain ranges face a strong risk of avalanches after stormy weather and snowfall in recent days, forecaster Meteo France said.

The avalanche risk was expected to worsen today and tomorrow, being particularly strong in the entire southern Alps as well as in the northern Alps and the Pyrenees above 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and on slopes with a northern exposure, the Paris-based forecaster wrote in a online report yesterday.

“With the strong temperature swings and very strong winds, the evolution of the snow cover is very variable,” Meteo France wrote. “The utmost caution is advised to skiers and walkers outside the secured areas.”

Avalanches kill about 30 people in France every year, with more than 95 percent of cases related to leisure activities, according to the Environment Ministry’s risk-prevention website

Weather conditions through to the end of the week, with more snow and wind, were expected to maintain the avalanche risk, the forecaster wrote.

France’s winter-sport resorts are the world’s biggest ski destination with 57.9 million days of skiing sold in the 2012-13 season, ahead of the U.S. with 56.9 million days and Austria with 54.2 million, according to resort lobby Domaines Skiables de France. The country has 236 skiing-domain operators, according to the lobby.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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