Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 1, pp. 47-64 | Full text
Snow avalanches are a common geomorphic process and natural hazard in the Southern Carpathians (Romanian Carpathians). The spatial distribution of avalanches is controlled by topographical factors, meteorological variables and human factors. This study examines the occurrence of avalanches in two glacial areas in the Făgăraş massif, Bâlea (on the northern slope) and Capra (on the southern slope). During the period from 1963 to 2015 a total of 27 serious avalanche accidents were recorded in the months November-June in the Făgăraş massif resulting in 76 fatalities and 50 burials/injuries. From these avalanches, we examined five major avalanche accidents: the avalanche of June, 1974 which caused 6 fatalities and 8 burials/injuries; the avalanche of April 17, 1977 which caused 23 fatalities; the avalanche of December 23, 1988 which caused 3 fatalities; the avalanche of December 28, 2002 which caused 4 fatalities and the avalanche of February 20, 2010 which caused one fatality and 2 burials/injuries. Our results indicate a good correlation between some topographical factors. On the other hand, an increase in snowfall and snowstorms in particular are factors responsible for one avalanche event; early snowfall and a sudden increase in temperature are factors responsible for two avalanche events and snowfall and a sudden increase in temperature are factors responsible for one avalanche event. Using the weather scenarios we found high snowstorm frequency in one case, early-season weak layers of faceted crystals and depth hoar in two cases and well above-average total snowfall for one case.