Heavy snow buries the global elite at Davos summit

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The global economy and geopolitical tensions are taking a back seat to a more immediate problem at this year's Davos summit of political and business leaders: heavy snow is burying the venue.

High in the Swiss alps on Monday, on the eve of the opening sessions, many of the roughly 3,000 delegates struggled to reach the ski resort. Part of the main train line into Davos had been buried in snow over the weekend, forcing people onto buses, and helicopters were disrupted by poor visibility.

SEE ALSO: One killed as avalanche engulfs skiers after volcano erupts at Japanese resort

Some pre-summit meetings were canceled or delayed as the first waves of delegates waded through snow-blanketed streets with luggage, looking for their hotels, or had to wait for road crews to dig their limousines out of drifts.

Businessmen slipped over on icy patches as snow plows roamed the streets, with the snow returning as fast as the machines could clear it.

9 PHOTOS
Snow buries elite at Davos summit
See Gallery
Snow buries elite at Davos summit
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 23: General view of Davos, Switzerland where the Annual Meeting of the 48th World Economic Forum held in, on January 23, 2018. About 30 homes in Davos are evucated due to an avalanche scare. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Swiss armed security personnel stand guard on the rooftop of a hotel, next to letters covered in snow reading 'Davos', near the Congress Centre on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 annual summit, on January 23, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. After spectacular snowfall that stranded high-flying delegates on their way to Davos, the World Economic Forum starts in earnest on January 23 basking in robust global growth but facing warnings that the world's have-nots are missing out more than ever. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Staff removes snow ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss Alps resort of Davos, Switzerland January 21, 2018 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A man walks in the snow ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss Alps resort of Davos, Switzerland January 21, 2018 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Staff removes snow ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss Alps resort of Davos, Switzerland January 21, 2018 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 23: General view of Davos, Switzerland where the Annual Meeting of the 48th World Economic Forum held in, on January 23, 2018. About 30 homes in Davos are evucated due to an avalanche scare. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 23: General view of Davos, Switzerland where the Annual Meeting of the 48th World Economic Forum held in, on January 23, 2018. About 30 homes in Davos are evucated due to an avalanche scare. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Heavy snowfall covers the houses and trees on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 23 - 26. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A pedestrian walks along a snow-covered walkway after heavy snowfall ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 23 - 26. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

World Economic Forum communications chief Adrian Monck said it appeared to be the heaviest snowfall for the four-decades-old summit since 1999-2000, though he described it as more of an inconvenience than a real threat to attendance.

"We know the snow causes inconvenience and it puts a lot of pressure on the city of Davos as a host but so far we have not seen any drop-off in registrations," Monck said.

With the weather forecast to clear on Tuesday, organizers are hoping transport will start to operate more smoothly and will be running without a hitch by the time U.S. President Donald Trump arrives on Friday to give the closing address.

However, so much snow has built up on the slopes surrounding Davos that avalanches remain a danger.

A bulletin from the SLF Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos showed a broad band of the mountainous country under Level 5 avalanche danger, the highest on a 1-5 scale.

"Fresh snow and snow drift accumulations are prone to triggering (avalanches). Until late in the night a large number of natural avalanches are to be expected," it said.

Local officials said on Monday they had evacuated two dozen residents from vulnerable areas while crews used explosives to reduce dangerous build-ups on some slopes above the town.

"When Trump comes on Friday it is far from obvious whether he will be able to use a fleet of large helicopters to land in Davos," said a source close to the organizing committee. "Large helicopters increase the risk of avalanches." (Additional reporting by Kirsten Donovan and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Mark Bendeich and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Read Full Story