We’re almost half-way through April. But at altitude in the Alps, the ski season is still going strong. Courtesy of ski holiday specialists Mark Warner and Crystal, I’m in Tignes this week (pictured above); and spring isn’t nearly so advanced as it has been at this time of the year in recent seasons. Snow depths are still extraordinary too. There’s nearly two metres of cover still on the pistes at village level, and 320cm at the top of the ski area – and some of the roofs are still wearing blankets of white 150cm deep.
Yes, there have been some toasty interludes this month (the weekend just gone was very warm). There have been plenty of wet-snow avalanches off-piste as well – triggered by rising temperatures. But it’s cooler now, and only the lowest pistes were turning slushy at lunchtime today – and even then they were far from being dripping wet. Needless to say, there were a lot of big grins around the valley.
One thing that will be in short supply this week is bright April sunshine. The weather will be dominated by low pressure over Spain, and it’s going to drag moist, southerly air up from the Med for several days. We can expect plenty of cloud, some occasional stormy winds, and – in the south-western Alps – lots of precipitation, especially along the Italian frontier.
It won’t be especially mild, though – so over the next two days there’ll be snow above the 1600-2000m mark in many places. Here in Tignes, we’ll see moderate accumulations (maybe 20cm or more if we’re lucky), but further south it’ll be heavier – in the likes of Serre Chevalier, Les Deux Alpes, as well in Zermatt, Cervinia, and Saas-Fee. Lower down, in the Italian Alps, there’ll be heavy rain too. Here’s our snow-rain-cloud forecast for 3-6pm on Wednesday. Check out those deep colours!
Further east it’ll be mild too, with southerly winds, but it’ll also be drier. In Austria, for example, high-altitude Obergurgl and Solden – close to the Italian border – will be among only a handful of ski areas that’ll significant snowfall. Here’s how it looked in Solden this afternoon.
Obergurgl still has 85-191cm of snow on its slopes, but closes for the season on April 22. Solden shuts on April 29. However, several other high-altitude resorts will stay open into May, include Val d’Isere (which closes May 1), Tignes (May 6), Val Thorens (May 10) and Cervinia (it stops full-time operations on May 6, but will open at the weekends until May 27). Glacier ski areas such as the Hintertux and the Stubai will be running well beyond that.
So there’s still the chance for a last blast before the season’s over. Just make sure you’re skiing at altitude if you do head to the Alps. If the mid-range forecasts for next week are accurate, the sun will be out and temperatures will jump.