Hautes-Alpes village cut off by snow

A "controlled avalanche" in the area is expected to be triggered today, to restore access to the village

A village in the Hautes-Alpes has been cut off from the outside world for at least two days due to heavy snowfall and the risk of avalanches

Weather agency Météo France issued a severe orange warning for avalanches in the area yesterday, and warned drivers and residents to be alert to the risk.

However, the village of Névache has been cut off altogether, due to a preemptive road closure while the high avalanche risk - which numbers 5 out of 5 on the scale, due to snowfall of over a metre in the past few days - still remains, reports news source FranceInfo.

The RD 994 road in the Vallée de la Clarée was closed on Monday due to the risk and even a 4x4 truck driven by the Névache mayor, Jean-Louis Chevalier, is reported to have turned back due to too much snow.

Now, a helicopter has been called in, to cause a “preventative” avalanche in controlled conditions, which - it is hoped - will make the area safe enough for a snow plough to do its work and make the roads accessible for 4x4s and other normal vehicles.

The helicopter reportedly tried to make its way to the village earlier in the week, but was not able to do so due to continuing adverse weather.

It is expected to try again and set off the controlled avalanche today (Wednesday 13 December).

Firefighters were able to enter the village just before the most recent heavy snowfall to rescue anyone who needed it, but mayor Chevalier says that he “does not know of any serious cases” of anyone needing to leave or enter the village urgently.

“You cannot get through,” he said. “There are certainly those who are a little bit annoyed, especially those who need medicine or to see a doctor, but right now I do not know of any serious cases. The firefighters were able to get up there before the last heavy snow to evacuate anyone who asked for it.”

Thankfully, however, estimates suggest that by this weekend, the village will once more be open and accessible.

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