A weekend of wintry weather in the Alps has been followed by a day of sometimes torrential rain and heavy snow.
The latest meteorological action has been sparked by the collision of frigid air from the north and very mild air from central Europe. The difference between the two is about 20C – and annoyingly it’s the warmth that will eventually gain the upper hand.
Currently, the heaviest precipitation is in Italy, but it’s also snowing hard in the Pyrenees, the Auvergne, parts of the French Alps, and along the Swiss and Austrian borders.
Here’s how it looked in Pila, in Italy’s Aosta Valley earlier today.
This was the hamelt of Findeln, above Zermatt in Switzerland.
And this was the blizzard blowing at the top of the Pitztal ski area in the Tirol at lunchtime.
This snow comes on top of quite meaty falls across the northern Alps on Saturday and Sunday. The drifts were thigh-deep on the Hintertux glacier yesterday…
Meanwhile, in Solden the snow was heavy enough to force the cancellation of the men’s giant slalom at the opening weekend of World Cup racing.
This is one of the wilder spells of October weather we’ve seen in the Alps in recent years, and it’s going to do wonders for the cover in the glacier ski areas such as Hinterux, the Stubai Glacier, Zermatt and Tignes.
Lower down, however, the net effect will be negligible. The snow that settled at resort level on Saturday and Sunday is already melting – and the retreating snowline will be particularly evident in the eastern Alps. In the west, it will stick around for longer above 2000m – helped by further snowfall on Wednesday. But by the weekend, there’ll be a proper thaw, and all but the highest slopes are likely to be snowless once more.
That’s okay, by the way. It is still October. We’d have liked the colder weather to stick around for longer – but it was always unlikely in an autumn as warm as this one. We’re just happy to see the cover start to thicken appreciably on the glaciers and in the high-altitude ski areas. As ever, these are the only sensible places to aim for if you fancy an early-season ski trip, before mid-December.
Here’s our guide to the best resorts for a pre-Christmas trip.