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Rare Australian avalanches

Ben Domensino, Tuesday August 8, 2017 - 15:41 EST

Avalanches have been occurring in Australia during the last 12 hours.

That's something you don't hear very often.

A rare avalanche advice was issued by Vic Emergency on Monday evening following avalanches in the state's alpine region. The advice was reissued at 2:05pm today with reports that more avalanches had occurred on Tuesday morning.

Avalanches are rare in Australia as the conditions which cause them aren't common in our alps.

The recent spate of avalanches - which have mostly occurred in the back country away from patrolled resort areas - were likely the result of a unique sequence of weather events that occurred during the past week.

Most recently, around one metre of fresh snow has fallen in the alps during the last five days. This new layer of snow is currently sitting on top of a more compact snow base, which accumulated earlier in the season.

In between the old base and new layer of snow is likely to be a brittle layer of ice crystals called hoar frost. This frost formed during a string of clear and calm nights in the middle of last week, just before the snow started falling from Thursday.

The layer of hoar frost prevented the newly deposited snow from binding to the existing snow base, making it prone to sliding as a single thick mass.

In addition to the preceding weather conditions, rising temperatures and strong winds today are also contributing to the development of avalanches.

The advice from emergency services for anybody visiting the Australian alps during the next few days is to:
- Avoid the back country and only ski or board in patrolled areas
- Only drive on main roads that aren't closed
- Fit snow chains to your vehicle when necessary

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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