Mother Nature has suddenly changed her mind. At last, she’s had her fill of Endless Summer in the Alps. On Wednesday winter begins – or at least something that looks a lot like it.
It will be a dramatic transformation. Today across the region the daytime freezing point has been up above the 3000m mark. But on Wednesday, the high pressure (and warm weather) that has been the defining characteristic of both September and October will slip west.
It’s not going far to start with, but it’ll loosen its grip just enough to let cold humid air into the Austrian Alps and part of Switzerland. It’ll snow quite heavily for a time as a result, with the freezing point down to 2100m. Here’s Meteoblue’s 2pm weather map for Austria on Wednesday. The cross hatches show where the snow will fall.
On Thursday and Friday the high pressure is forecast to reassert itself. But, on Saturday, it clears off completely and the whole of western Europe will get a cold bath.
This is the ECMWF’s prognosis for Sunday.
According to French forecaster Meteo Chamonix, we can expect snow falling to low altitudes – and the mountains will suddenly turn white.
What’s more, it will probably stay cold and snowy for a couple of days at least. Of course, it’s bound to warm up again afterwards, and we’ll see the snowline scurrying back uphill. As ever, the high-altitude resorts will be the only ones worth considering for an early season ski trip. But hopefully – hopefully – there won’t be a return of the extraordinarily mild weather of recent weeks.
The snow will certainly be a huge boost for the glacier ski areas, where the skiing’s been pretty limited so far this autumn. However, it could also disrupt the running of the opening races of the World Cup ski season on Solden’s Rettenbach glacier on October 27 and 28. Nothing shuts down a ski race quite like a blizzard…
Meanwhile, in North America…
In the American Rockies, the ski season is up and running. A cold and snowy spell in Colorado has enabled both Arapahoe Basin and Loveland to open their first pistes of the season. A-Basin won the annual race, with an October 19 start. Loveland (pictured below) followed up on October 20.
Here’s how the upper slopes of A-Basin looked earlier today.
The ski runs on the top half of the mountain aren’t yet open, but as you can see, there’s a lot of snow for late October. This week will see some melting, even at these altitudes, but there’s hope of more snow next weekend.