At last! The balmy Alpine weather of recent weeks has been hustled away by frigid winds from the east. Temperatures have plunged, and there’s been light snowfall in many places.
Most importantly, it’s cold enough to turn the snow cannons on. As regular Snow Report readers will know, there was heavy snow at altitude at the start of the month. But despite the white peaks and ridges, the cover lower down has been thin or non-existent. Now at last the resorts can run their cannons hard, and lay down a firm, dense layer of man-made snow.
Here’s a very emblematic webcam image of conditions below about 2600m today – courtesy of the Alta Badia in the Italian Dolomites. As you can see, the light dusting of natural snowfall isn’t as nearly significant as the white stuff from the cannons.
The change in the weather has come just in the nick of time, because the first wave of mainstream resort openings is upon us. The first to get going was Obergurgl in the Austrian Tirol last week, but Val Thorens in France had to postpone its opening because of a lack of cover below 2700m. As you can see from the image below, the snow cannons should make up the shortfall in time for the Grande Première opening party this weekend.
Val d’Isère in France is another resort opening at the weekend, and it too will delighted by the sudden chill. As you can see from the image below, taken at 2700m, there’s loads of snow up high. But on the lower pistes, back into the valley, there’s almost no natural cover. Thankfully, the snow cannons are now making up the shortfall.
The other big opening this week is Ischgl in the Austria. Here too, light snowfall and low temperatures are now working their magic.
More snow is expected this week. It’ll fall first at the eastern end of the Alps, favouring the Italian Dolomites and eastern and southern Austria. Then we should see snow in the south-western Alps, across parts of France and Italy. There’ll be several sub-zero nights too – although the trend is for the days to warm up a bit.
Is this the start of winter, or just a preview? It does look as though the Alps will have a mild weekend, followed by cooler conditions again next week. There’ll be further oscillations between warm and cold after that. So I’d say this is just a preview for now. Anyone heading out to the Alps for their first turns of the season should build plenty of altitude into their plans.