Last week a powerful storm brought heavy snow to the southern half of Alps with a metre or more of the white stuff falling in many places. Resorts just beyond the Italian border – such as Obergurgl and Solden in the Austrian Tirol, Zermatt in Switzerland and Serre Chevalier in France – also saw heavy falls.
This week the weather is going to be spring-like and changeable but not too warm. French forecaster Meteo Chamonix has described conditions as a “barometric swamp” – and the net result is likely to be light winds, bobbling temperatures and a mix of sunshine, cloud and showers.
It’s likely to be sunnier in the west (at least, to start) and snowier in the Swiss and Austrian Alps, but all areas will see a mix of both clear skies and cloud in the next five days. There’s a good chance of the occasional rumble of thunder in the heaviers showers, especially in the afternoons.
Over the weekend my fellow editors, Peter and Felice Hardy, have been skiing in Champoluc, part of Italy’s Monterosa ski area. They hit the snow jackpot – as this photograph testifies.
Since this shot was taken there’s been further heavy snow in the Monterosa.
There’s no doubt that for Italy this has been the storm of the season. That’s been a mixed blessing, as it came right at the end of a difficult season for many resorts. For example, the resorts of the Italian Dolomites had up to a metre of fresh snow last week: but this weekend saw the last skiing on the famous Sella Ronda circuit of pistes. So the best snow of the season is now lying unused on those slopes.
Elsewhere, conditions are good or even excellent for the time of year, especially in the high-altitude resorts (which are the only sensible places to be skiing as Easter approaches). What’s more, with temperatures staying relatively cool for April, the snow on shadier slopes above 2300m should stay cold, dry and squeaky for much of the week.
Lower down and on south-facing slopes, spring-skiing tactics will be essential to get the best from the day.
In places, snow depths are exceptional. In Solden, for example, there is up to 478cm of settled cover on the glaciers and 173cm mid-mountain. Zermatt and Livigno both have 250cm of snow on their higher pistes, and Val d’Isere reports 227cm. According to mid-range forecasts, the relatively cool conditions should persist into next week, too.