The coldest winter in large parts of Austria has struck unexpectedly early, with meteorologists talking Sunday of weather conditions that occur in the Alpine republic once every 30 to 50 years. About 150 centimetres of fresh snow fell in the Alps within 48 hours.

A storm brought on by a low pressure system moved across Upper Austria on Sunday afternoon, leaving houses and roads covered or blocked by fallen trees.

The winter weather is expected to last for the rest of the week. Austria's avalanche warning system raised the alarm to the second- highest grade.

A man reportedly became trapped in an avalanche in Gargellen in Vorarlberg on Sunday but was freed by a companion.

A report by the APA news agency said access roads to the elite ski resorts of Lech and Zuers in Arlberg was prohibited because of the risk of avalanche.

Access to the resorts was restored Sunday afternoon after avalanche authorities blasted dangerous snow masses.

The previous time that Lech was cut off so early in the winter was 1974. There were 1,200 people in the resort Sunday, but at peak ski season up to 12,000 people are in the village.

In Judenburg in Styria province a 17-year-old died Saturday afternoon in a traffic accident on icy roads.

A woman died overnight near Salzburg when the driver of a reversing vehicle did not see her and drove over her in thick snowfall.

The snow continued to fall in large parts of Austria Sunday, with low-lying areas and Vienna also seeing a few centimetres of fresh snow Sunday afternoon.

Traffic was hampered by the snow, and high-lying areas required cars to use their snow tyres.

In Tirol and Vorarlberg provinces up to 1 metre of snow was measured on Saturday.

Langen in Arlberg saw 112 centimetres of fresh snow on Sunday.

Winds reached 140 kilometres per hour in parts.

Hurricane-style storms caused serious damage in Upper Austria.

Official reports said that over 1,000 fire fighters were deployed across the country.