The season’s winding down fast in the Alps now. Val d’Isere, Ischgl and the Grands Montets sector of Chamonix close this weekend. Tignes and Val Thorens shut on May 10 (though Tignes reopens on June 27 for summer skiing). Pretty soon, only a handful of glacier ski areas in Austria, Switzerland and Italy will be offering lift-serviced slopes, before the summer season gets underway.
But that hasn’t stopped the weather being busy. There was fresh snow down to 1500m on Tuesday, followed by sunshine on Wednesday, and now…well…it’s dumping at altitude, above about 2500m, and pouring with rain lower down. 50-100cm of new snow is expected at altitude over the Mont Blanc massif by the time the clouds lift, while lower down the already wet snowpack is going to become absolutely sodden.
Check out the difference in conditions on slopes above and below the freezing point in Tignes, today…
Here’s how it’s looking up at 2700m, at Tovieres, on the way over to Val d’Isere. In a word, snowy.
And this is how it’s looking at Tignes-le-Lac at 2100m. Not so snowy…
Pictured below, is the scene on the Pitztal glacier in the Tirol, Austria. The Pitztal glacier has nearly three metres of snow bedded down on its highest pistes, but will be closing on May 10.
Meanwhile, this is the white-out on the Stubai glacier, which had already reported 20cm of new snow first thing this morning. There’s up to 260cm of settled snow here, and the lifts will be running until July 3.
This high-altitude dump would be exciting news, if it were not for the Sunday’s forecast. More heavy rain is expected on May 3, and this time it’ll be falling up to 3000m – or even higher. So even the glaciers are going to get a dousing, and the fresh snow falling today will become thoroughly wet. There are concerns too about flooding lower down, as the rain accelerates the spring purge of snow in the mountains.
On Monday, the skies will clear, but it will still be mild. In France, local forecaster Meteo Chamonix thinks the freezing point will be above 3000m for several days.
Fancy skiing on a glacier this summer? Then check out our guide to the best resorts for summer skiing.
|France: yuck! The weather’s been wet and windy today. Fresh snow has fallen, but only above the 2500-2600m mark, and even this will soon be wet, thanks to a second, even milder storm due in on Sunday. With rain falling up to 3000m it won’t be one of the best closing days Val d’Isere has ever seen. From Monday, only two high-altitude areas will still be in play – Val Thorens, and Tignes. In Val Thorens, the snow is currently 70-180cm deep. In Tignes, they’ve got 18-134cm of cover.|
|Switzerland: as in France, the season is winding down fast. There’s still plenty of snow at altitude, but it will be rather wet as a result of Sunday’s rain, except on the very highest slopes. Currently Zermatt reports a 210cm of snow at 2900m, while Engelberg has 185cm of mid-mountain snow, and 350cm at the top.|
|Austria: as in France and Switzerland, there’s been heavy snow in Austria above the 2600m mark, but the powder won’t last long – thanks to heavy rain expected on Sunday. With the closing of Ischgl and Obertauern this weekend, the season retreats to the glaciers. Currently, on the Hintertux glacier, the snow is up to 290cm deep on the pistes. Meanwhile above Kaprun, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier reports snow 200-380cm deep.|
|Italy: For best skiing, head to Cervinia, which shares its ski area with neighbouring Zermatt, and offers some of the highest slopes in the Alps. Here, the snow is 20-210cm deep. However, the lifts will only be running at weekends in May. Meanwhile on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale, there are three pistes open and the snow is 350-400cm deep.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts have now closed for skiing.|
|Western USA: there was fresh snow in both Utah and Colorado last weekend – continuing the snowy theme that’s settled in since Easter. Among the handful of resorts still open, Snowbird in Utah reports 180cm mid-mountain cover. while Arapahoe Basin has 124cm of settled snow on its trails.|
|Western Canada: April was one of the best months, snow-wise, in western Canada this season, especially in the Rockies. However, spring is now back in control, and in Lake Louise the temperature is expected to hit +8C on the slopes. The snowpack is currently 135cm deep, mid-mountain. Meanwhile, nearer the coast, Whistler has now shut the lifts on Blackcomb mountain. They reopen to skiers on June 20 for the short glacier season. Whistler mountain will be open until May 18, and reports a mid-mountain snowpack of 173cm.|