THE ALPS: Sudden Snows

Over their busy New Year's holiday, guides and hotelkeepers in eastern Switzerland and the neighboring Austrian province of Tyrol had gloomily eyed the thinning snow on their famous ski slopes. Smoothing their local pride, they assured grumbling foreign visitors that more snow, a great deal of snow, was bound to come.

Late last week the snow arrived, a record three-day fall that sometimes came down as fast as five inches an hour. Instead of improving the trails and slalom courses, it caused one of the worst series of avalanches in Alpine history. Tons...

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