After all the excitement of the last fortnight, the weather in the Alps has calmed down considerably. It’s warming up, too.
Today, a cool northerly breeze has taken the edge off the thaw, especially Austria: but the trend is for the mercury to rise to late-spring levels again as the week unfolds. By Wednesday, the daytime freezing point in the western Alps will be up to 3,100m, which is above the to lift in almost every resort. Ouch!
In the western Alps, the thaw at the end of last week in France has already had an impact. In the region of the Three Valleys and La Plagne in France, for example, south-facing slopes have been affected up to 3000m, and north-facing slopes up to 2500m at least. The snow is now going through a 24hr cycle of daytime melting and overnight refreezing.
As a result of that warming process, the avalanche risk has eased off considerably. That’s a relief given how much snow fell between February 28 and March 7, and how unstable it was. But if you’re looking for fluffy, wintry powder, you’re too late, I’m afraid.
That’s not to say the skiing is rubbish, of course. You just need to get your timing right, and hit the slopes just as the top layer of snow softens in the sunshine. A guide is essential if you’re going to try to do this off-piste: but on-piste, it’s just a question of following the snow around the resort as it warms up each slope. Get it right, and you’ll have a ball.
The mild sunny weather looks set to continue until the weekend, after which there’s the chance of a colder spell, and more snow. But don’t bank on it just yet…
Here’s a quick squizz at the slopes, starting with Solden in Austria, and some very inviting corduroy at the top of the resort this morning. The snow here is 20-277cm deep.
Meanwhile, this was Ciampac, above the Italian resort of Canazei this afternoon. The great citadel of rock in the distance is the Sella massif. The snow on piste 15-65cm deep.
And pictured below was Tignes in France, this afternoon. The cover here 130-245cm deep, on-piste, depending on altitude.
Meanwhile, in North America…
The resorts of the American west are basking in unseasonably mild sunshine at the moment: quite a change for them after their extraordinarily snowy winter.
But in Canada the weather is busier. It’s a little on the mild side, but snow is falling nevertheless. Whistler on the west coast has had 71cm of fresh snow on its upper slopes this week, and there’s been 24cm in the last seven days in the Rocky-Mountain resort of Lake Louise. Both resorts are expecting more this week.
Here’s how Lake Louise looked this morning. At base-lodge level, the high today will be +3C.