French Alps Face High Avalanche Risk in Coming Days After Snow

The French Alps, the world’s most popular skiing destination, remain at high risk of avalanches in coming days after snow and wind last week, weather forecaster Meteo France said.

Stability of the snow pack has become “very precarious” throughout the Alps in recent days, causing several deadly avalanches, and this instability will persist in coming days, the forecaster wrote in a bulletin dated yesterday.

“A winter sportsman could therefore easily detach a snow sheet in his passage,” Meteo France wrote. “Extreme caution or a decision to refrain is therefore recommended when practicing off-piste skiing or hiking, on either skis or snowshoes.”

Seven people have died in avalanches in the French Alps in the past four days, Ouest France reported today. 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

Last week’s snow, more or less abundant depending on the area, frequently fell in combination with wind, forming sheets on top of older layers of snow made fragile by good weather in the first three weeks of December, Meteo France said.

France’s winter 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 lobby Domaines Skiables de France. The country has 236 winter-sport domain operators, the lobby says.

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