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Evolène is a municipality in the district of Hérens in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.It includes the villages of Lannaz, Les Haudères, La Sage/Villa(z), La Forclaz, Arolla and Ferpècle.HistoryThe prehistoric rock carvings at Alpage De Cotter and the Maison d’habitation in Les Haudères are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance.Evolène is first mentioned in 1250 as Ewelina. In 1444 it was mentioned as in loco de Evolena. The municipality was formed in 1882 by division of Hérens municipality into Evolène and Saint-Martin. The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Azure, issuant from a base Vert a mountain Argent, in chief dexter two Mullets of Five and a bird vollant all Or.Avalanches of 21 February 1999On 21 February 1999, Evolène was the place of a number of fatal avalanches that caused the deaths of 12 people. This was due to a substantial amount of snow which fell on the Alps during the winter of 1999.The amount of snow that fell during the end of January and the month of February was huge. In spite of this, the snow was able to retain cohesion due to favourable, relatively constant temperature. The situation, however, worsened on the Thursday the 18th, three days before the drama. Weather reports indicated that temperatures were set to rise and between Thursday night and Friday morning, the temperature rose 5 degrees Celsius. This rapid rise caused a mixing between the old and the new layers of snow. In this state, the risk of an avalanche was considered to be at level 3, on a scale of 5. The situation was still not considered to be critical and therefore it was not seen as necessary to instigate any emergency measures. On Saturday 20 February, the avalanche danger was increased to level 4 due to between 20and of fresh snow that fell on the older, established layers, meaning that the possibility of the new layer literally sliding off the older layer (after slight melting) increased. The temperature remained constant between Saturday (20th) and Sunday 21 February, until midday on Sunday when it began to rapidly rise due to prolonged exposure to the sun.
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