Heavy Snowfall Leaves Thousands Stranded In Alps

A reconnaissance flight is planned over the area to help determine the situation and how to proceed

Heavy Snowfall Leaves Thousands Stranded In Alps

However, an official who spoke with CBS News on the condition of anonymity made sure to clarify that none of the evacuations were government ordered; they were requested by cautious individuals.

Local officials said no lives were ever in danger and the situation was calm, with cafes open and many streets walkable. More than a meter (39 inches) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone with another meter falling yesterday.

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The intense snowfall in the Zermatt and Saas valleys was part of a broader weather pattern that was causing mudslides and intensifying the avalanche risk across a broad swathe of south-western Switzerland.

Zermatt is home to some 5,500 inhabitants and has the capacity to accommodate 13,400 tourists spread across hotels and rental apartments. MARK RALSTON, AFP/Getty Images A snow blower on a train clears snow from the rail track in Zermatt, Switzerland, on January 10, 2018. An estimated 13,000 people were stuck after snow closed mountain lifts, ski runs, walking paths and train services to the village. From there the road has been cleared and it is possible to continue by bus. The train track was reopened this evening.

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Frank Techel, an SLF avalanche forecaster, said roughly three to four meters (about 10-13 feet) of snow had been dumped on the Zermatt area so far this year, which he called an "extraordinary" amount for the region in such a short span.

Mud and rockslides, as well as flooding, closed a number of roads across Valais.

Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office said power has been restored in the town and no people were at risk because authorities blocked access to the nearby ski slopes and hiking trails a day earlier.

Italian Alpine resorts were the first to be hit by heavy snowfalls.

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