Check out the brilliant sunshine in the Alps today…
This was Courchevel in France this morning.
Pictured below was Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol earlier this afternoon.
Here was the view on the Col du Lauteret above the French resort of Serre Chevalier.
In the Italian Dolomites, it’s been cloudier, but there have been some moments of sunshine. This was the Col Rodella earlier today, above Canazei.
For anyone who endured the rain that fell at the end of last week across the northern Alps, today’s flawless blue sky will be a galling sight. But it’s been accompanied by a precipitous drop in temperature, so those immaculate-looking pistes are actually pretty hard, as the dense, wet snow created by the rain has refrozen.
Off-piste the avalanche risk is considerable too. Layers of new snow are sitting upon a dense base, and they’re not bonding well. As the Tirol’s avalanche service pointed out this morning, “the fresh snow and fresh snowdrifts of recent days have been deposited atop surface hoar and faceted crystals which formed beneath crusts”, and they’re easily triggered as a result.
Meanwhile in France, the problem is with unstable wind-slabs – and the heart-breaking avalanche fatalities in Val d’Isere over the weekend are a reminder of the considerable risks off-piste at the moment. If you’re tempted, hire a guide, and please please please be cautious.
This time last year, the weather was warming up before a remarkably mild March. This year, the end of February is going to be cold, and there’s a chance that next week it’ll turn frigid. In France, the daytime freezing point will be bobbling about between the 600 and 1000m mark for much of the week, which is on the chilly side, and in Austria we’re looking similar ranges. There’s likely to be snow in the east too, according to Welove2ski’s snow forecast – with Thursday’s map showing the heaviest falls this week.
What’s really interesting however is the ECMWF’s weather chart for next week. We could see the coldest weather of the winter so far at the beginning of March.
If this deep freeze materialises, it’ll be further proof – if any were needed – that has been an extraordinary winter.