We’re looking forward to the return of winter in the Alps.
Currently, the signs are it will be dropping in for a weekend visit, starting on Friday. According to the snow forecast at Meteoblue, a weather front will move in from the west, hitting the French Alps first, but moving quickly into Switzerland, and then settling over western Austria on Saturday night. We can expect light to moderate snowfalls as a result, with the snow settling at mid-mountain levels: probably down to 1250m for a time.
Here’s Meteoblue’s snow forecast for the 24hrs up to 19:00 on Saturday, January 18. This is before the storm (briefly) intensifies in Austria on Saturday night. In the Arlberg – home of St Anton and Lech-Zürs – 20-30cm could fall by the time the clouds lift.
Then, on Sunday it’s back to calm and sunny weather. However, temperatures will probably be lower than they have been over the first half of January. So hopefully more of the regions’ pistes will stay soft and grippy.
In other words, January’s weather continues to be, well…a bit disappointing. Yes, of course the new snow will be welcome. Especially if 20cm or more falls. But what we want is a proper, week-long spell of snowy weather to refresh the slopes, and some chilly temperatures to go with it. It is mid-winter after all.
That’s not to say the slopes are bare, of course. Thanks to the turbulent end to 2019, the cover is still good above about 1500m right across the Alps. But the pistes are for the most part pretty hard-packed in the mornings, and it’s taking a while for the sunshine to soften them up. You need to sharpen your technique as well as your edges to ski them well. That’s what my fellow-editor Felice Hardy has been doing in Val d’Isere today – and she’s had a ball. Up high, away from the sun, she’s found some good grippy pistes and – as befits the middle of January – a complete absence of crowds.
This how it looked this morning in La Daille.
Lower down, however, the cover is getting more threadbare, with the odd pebble and smear of dirt showing. So it’s time to start sacrificing some more chickens to the Snow Gods. They could really do with a some sustained snowfall before the peak holiday period of mid-February hoves into view. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the best skiing conditions, stay high.