Snow news...

Updated: 11.20am Thursday 27 August 2015 - August to finish with another mini heatwave

 

Following the hottest ever July in the Alps, temperatures in August have again been above average - though with fewer extremes than we saw earlier in the summer.

Cervinia, Italy Looking towards the Klein Matterhorn and the Swiss border from Cervinia - Photo: cervinia.it

The glaciers have even seen some fresh snow - 30cm in Zermatt last week, for example - which freshened things up nicely, albeit temporarily. Temperatures are now on the rise again with another mini heatwave to finish August, with temperatures this weekend soaring into the mid 30°C’s in some of the lower valleys.

 

Right now, you can ski in:

 

France - in Les 2 Alpes but only until 29th August

 

Italy - in Cervinia (mostly on the Swiss side shared with Zermatt) but only until 6th September, and also at Passo Stelvio

 

Switzerland - in Zermatt and Saas-Fee

 

Austria - in Hintertux and on the Mölltal glacier

Today in the Alps will be back in Autumn 2015,
but Snow News will continue to bring you regular updates over the summer...

Snow reports and Snow forecasts will return in October 2015

Updated: 5.30pm Tuesday 18 August 2015 - The Alps have cooled off at last

 

Following their hottest July on record (and a warmer than average start to August) temperatures in the Alps have cooled off considerably in recent days.

Matterhorn viewed from Cervinia, Italy Fresh snow on the Matterhorn (as viewed from Cervinia) - Photo: Warren Smith Ski Academy

There has even been some snow, mostly above 3000m, but in sufficient quantity to at least temporarily freshen up some of the glaciers – especially the higher ones such as Les 2 Alpes, Saas-Fee and Zermatt.

 

It should be said, however, that this will make little difference to overall snow depths and the summer of 2015 will still go down as the most difficult (in terms of skiing conditions) since 2003 - the last time there was a heatwave on anything like this scale. Temperatures are set to climb again later this week but nothing like to the levels we saw earlier in the summer.

 

Right now the only glacier open for skiing in France is in Les 2 Alpes where they hope to continue operating until 29 August.

 

In Switzerland, you can ski in Zermatt (where the extra altitude offers perhaps the best conditions in Europe) and Saas-Fee, both of which are scheduled to remain open right through until the winter season.

 

In Italy, you can access the glacier above Zermatt from Cervinia until 6 September. Further east, another option is Passo Stelvio which hopes to stay open until 6 September.

 

In Austria, you can ski in Hintertux 365 days a year and on the Mölltal glacier in Carinthia, which will remain open until next spring.

Updated: 11.30am Monday 10 August 2015 - Tignes’ summer ski season ends

 

Tignes’ difficult summer ski season drew to a close this weekend, though the lifts didn’t actually open on Sunday due to stormy weather.

Klein Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland The Klein Matterhorn above Zermatt probably offers the best conditions in the Alps right now - Photo: zermatt.ch

Few would dispute that it was not before time, after the hottest July on record devastated the Grande Motte glacier leaving it virtually un-skiable by the end of its short summer season.

 

And it’s not alone! Les 2 Alpes has also struggled with threadbare slopes, particularly on the lower portion of its glacier. Further east, conditions have been holding up marginally better - but it is all relative and, generally speaking, summer ski conditions in 2015 have been poor.

 

Right now the only glacier open for skiing in France is in Les 2 Alpes where they hope to continue operating until 29 August.

 

In Switzerland, you can ski in Zermatt (where the extra altitude offers perhaps the best conditions in Europe) and Saas-Fee, both of which are scheduled to remain open right through until the winter season.

 

In Italy, you can access the glacier above Zermatt from Cervinia until 6 September. Further east, another option is Passo Stelvio which hopes to stay open until 6 September.

 

In Austria, you can ski in Hintertux 365 days a year and on the Mölltal glacier in Carinthia, which will remain open until next spring.

Updated: 11am Tuesday 4 August 2015 - Hottest ever July for parts of the Alps...

 

It was the hottest ever July for many parts of the Alps. For some it was even the hottest ever month, including Innsbruck (Austria) where this July’s average of 22.5°C was some 4.5°C higher than the long term mean.

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes - 4th August 2015 A very threadbare Grande Motte glacier in Tignes, 4th August 2015 - Photo: tignes.net

22.5°C represents the overall monthly average, but daily maximums were much higher, often pushing well into the 30°C’s, even at 1000m. Take Chamonix, for instance, where the mercury surpassed 30°C on 21 occasions in July! In a normal year you would expect this to happen just twice.

 

Needless to say, the effect on the glaciers has been dramatic. Just take a look at these two webcam shots of the Grande Motte glacier in Tignes. Below shows the glacier on the opening day of the summer ski season, while above shows the glacier this morning, where somehow they are still skiing despite it clearly being in a desperate state.

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes - 29th June 2015 Grande Motte glacier, Tignes - 29th June 2015 - Photo: tignes.net

It’s not just Tignes that has suffered. Conditions are poor across the board, but for various reasons the more eastern glaciers (e.g. Hintertux and Passo Stelvio) do seem to have fared a little better.

 

Temperatures are also set to remain high for the first half of August, though it is too early to say whether we will see anything like the extremes experienced in July.

 

Right now you can still ski on the following Alpine glaciers:

 

France

Tignes is set to struggle on until 9 August, and Les 2 Alpes until 29 August.

 

Switzerland

You can ski in Saas-Fee and Zermatt, both of which are open (weather permitting) all the way through to the winter season.

 

Italy

Skiing is possible at Passo Stelvio, scheduled to remain open until 6 November, and on the glaciers above Cervinia (on the Swiss side shared with Zermatt) until 6 September.

 

Austria

The glacier above Hintertux is open 365 days a year, and you can also ski on the more southerly Mölltal glacier, which is provisionally open through until next winter. 

Updated: 5.10pm Thursday 9 July 2015 – Record-breaking heat-wave over, but it’s set to stay warm…

 

The serious heat is over for now but temperatures are set to stay well above average for the foreseeable future.

Passo Stelvio, Italy Snow cover holding up ok on the Passo Stelvio glacier near Bormio - Photo: passostelvio.com

Lots of all-time high temperatures were recorded in and around the Alps last weekend and early this week – including 39.7°C in Geneva, 38.2°C in Innsbruck, and 29.4°C in Alpe d’Huez (1860m). It cooled off a little mid-week but the heat is building again and temperatures are likely to stay well above average for the foreseeable future.

 

All this is not great news for the glaciers of course, with many summer ski areas wondering if they can last the course. The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is particularly vulnerable, but other areas are also at risk of premature closure if the summer heat continues.

Updated: 10.15am Monday 6 July 2015 - Temperature records tumble

 

Temperature records were broken at the weekend as the Alpine heatwave continues.

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France - Monday 6 July 2015 Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France - Monday 6 July 2015

On Sunday, Val d’Isère (1850m) broke its July record with 28.2°C, while Alpe d’Huez (1860m) recorded an all-time high of 28.5°C. In Chamonix (1030m) the temperature soared to 35.7°C - just short of its 37.2°C record high.  In the foothills some spots were very close to 40°C!

 

The weather will remain blisteringly hot early this week before cooling off slightly on Wednesday and Thursday. However, it seems that the heatwave will return on Friday, lasting over the weekend and well into next week.

 

The consequences of this heatwave, the most significant since the record-breaking events of 2003, are serious. We are keeping a particularly close eye on the glaciers, which are losing snow at an alarming rate, especially in the western Alps. Just take a look at the difference on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes in the last week alone. 

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France - Monday 29 June 2015 Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France - Monday 29 June 2015

Not only has the snow not been refreezing overnight, the day-time shade temperature has been reaching 16°C at 3000m, and glacier ice is now clearly visible (see top picture) across wide swathes of piste. How long they can keep going with summer skiing this year is highly questionable.

 

Other glaciers are also suffering but, generally speaking, less so in the eastern Alps, at least for now. 

Updated: 9.25am Monday 29 June 2015 - Major heatwave for western Alps

 

A serious heatwave is forecast for the western Alps this week with temperatures into the mid 30°C’s in the lower Alpine valleys, and freezing levels reaching 4700m (that’s almost the height of Mont Blanc)…

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France Summer skiing in Tignes opened last weekend with conditions already looking a little worn - Photo: tignes.net

Indeed, Météo France have issued alerts for much of France, with the hottest weather in the south-west of the country early in the week (Bordeaux could hit 40°C on Tuesday) spreading to the Rhônes-Alpes region later.

 

Remarkably, Chamonix (1035m) should exceed 30°C every day this week with 33-34°C possible from Wednesday onwards. What’s more, the exceptionally high temperatures show little sign of letting up and are likely to continue over the weekend and into next week. In short, it is the most serious heatwave in France since 2003, with some early July records likely to be broken. Although still hot, the eastern Alps (especially Austria) will be less affected.

 

It has been well documented how Alpine glaciers have been shrinking in recent years with numerous summer ski areas forced to close over the last decade or two, including VerbierVal ThorensLa Plagne and St Moritz.

 

The imminent heatwave is not good news for the remaining glaciers, which will be taking a hammering over the next couple of weeks and could be increasingly difficult to maintain (for skiers) later in the summer. The Grande Motte glacier in Tignes, for example, is vulnerable to hot summers and although it only reopened on Saturday is already looking a little bit worn...

Updated: 9.45am Thursday 25 June 2015 – Heatwave imminent

 

There are currently eight Alpine glaciers available for summer skiing, with a couple more due to open this weekend.

Passo Stelvio, Italy Good skiing available on the glacier at Passo Stelvio - Photo: passostelvio.com

In Austria the best bet is Hintertux, which offers around 21km of pistes and is open 365 days a year. The Stubai glacier is another good option, but will only operate until 3 July. More limited options are the Mölltaler glacier in Carinthia which has three runs open throughout the summer and (further north) the Dachstein glacier which will continue “until the snow runs out”, typically early to mid-July.

 

In Italy you can ski on the underrated Passo Stelvio glacier near Bormio and, as of this weekend (27 July) in Cervinia, where the glacier is shared with Zermatt.

 

In France you can ski on the relatively small Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isère until 12 July. The nearby Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is more extensive and open until 9 August. The best option in France though is probably Les 2 Alpes (the largest skiable glacier in the Alps) which remains open until 29 August.

 

In Switzerland you can only ski in Zermatt, which is open most of the year, with Saas-Fee joining the fray from 19 July onwards.

 

So far, the snow is holding up quite well, especially on the glaciers of the eastern Alps such as Hintertux and Passo Stelvio. It is, however, forecast to get very hot in the Alps next week which could (should it continue) cause problems with the snow cover later in the summer season. 

Updated: 10.20am Friday 12 June 2015 – Summer ski season “warming up”

 

June is probably the quietest month for skiing in the Alps. Right now you can ski on six Alpine glaciers - Passo Stelvio in Italy, Val d’Isère in France, Zermatt in Switzerland and Stubai, Hintertux, and Dachstein in Austria.

Passo Stelvio, Italy Decent conditions on the glacier above Passo Stelvio, Italy - Photo: passostelvio.com

Following a colder and snowier than average May, early summer skiing conditions have been pretty good so far this season. However, June has been much warmer and it remains to be seen how things will hold up later in July and into August.

 

The next summer ski area to open will be Les 2 Alpes on 20 June, followed by Tignes and Cervinia on 27 June, and Saas-Fee on 19 July. 

Updated: 10am Monday 1 June 2015 - Alpine glaciers in good shape – for now…

 

It’s June - traditionally the quietest time on the slopes, at least when it comes to skiing in the Alps! That said, conditions on the glaciers are pretty good right now thanks to a cooler and snowier than average May.

Stubai, Austria Excellent snow conditions right now on the Stubai glacier - Photo: stubaier-gletscher.com

The weather is changing, however, with heatwave conditions expected later this week. Indeed temperatures are likely reach the lower 30°Cs in some of the Alpine valleys on Thursday/Friday, with freezing levels above 4000m!

 

This won’t present any immediate problems for summer skiers – the glaciers normally hold up quite well in June regardless of the weather. It is worth noting, though, that successive or prolonged heatwaves can leave some summer ski areas threadbare later in the summer – something to keep an eye on.

 

Right now you can ski on four glaciers in Austria – Hintertux (open 365 days a year), Stubai (open until 3 July), Kaunertal open until 7 June and Dachstein (open until the snow runs out!).

 

In Italy, Cervinia is now closed until 28 June, but further east the glacier at Passo Stelvio opened on Saturday and will remain open all summer.

 

It is not currently possible to ski in France right now, but Val d’Isère opens its Pissaillas glacier from 6 June to 12 July. Opening later this month are Les 2 Alpes (20 June to 29 August) and Tignes (27 June to 9 August). 

 

In Switzerland the only option right now is Zermatt (open most of the year).  

Updated: 9.30am Thursday 21 May 2015 - Further significant snowfalls in the Alps

 

It’s unseasonably cold in the Alps right now, with significant new snow in many places. This is great news for the glaciers of course, with 50cm of fresh reported in Hintertux  this morning and 40cm+ in Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn and Kaunertal. Further west, Engelberg also reports 40cm on its Titlis glacier, scheduled to close this weekend.

Engelberg, Switzerland Big snowfalls in the Engelberg area, even below glacier level - Photo: titlis.ch

The snow hasn’t just been confined to the glaciers either, with a temporary dusting to below 1000m in some northern parts of the Alps. More snow is expected to relatively low altitudes today, heaviest in the central and eastern Alps.

Livigno, Italy Heavy snow in Livigno, even at resort level- Photo: valtline.it

In Austria - you can still ski in Hintertux (open 365 days a year), Kaunertal (closes 7 June), Kitzsteinhorn (closes 25 May) and Dachstein (no fixed closing date).

 

In Switzerland - Zermatt offers year round skiing but Engelberg and Diavolezza (near St Moritz) are scheduled to close on 25 May.

 

In Italy - Cervinia is open until the end of May, but only at weekends.

 

Skiing resumes in France on the Pissaillas glacier above Val d’Isère on 6 June. 

Updated: 9.20am Tuesday 19 May 2015 - Unsettled, further snow for the glaciers

 

The Alps are entering another unseasonably cool spell of weather, with snow to relatively low altitudes over the next few days, especially in Austria.

Stubai glacier, Austria Good snow cover still on the Stubai glacier south of Innsbruck - Photo: facebook.com/schifahren.stubaiergletscher

Although there aren’t any resorts open in France right now, this cooler weather is good news for Val d’Isère which will be the first resort to open (in France) for summer skiing on 6 June. A few cm of snow are expected here over the next few days, but nothing significant.

 

In Switzerland, you can ski most days in Zermatt (weather and lift maintenance permitting), on the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz (until 25 May) and on the Titlis glacier above Engelberg (also until 25 May). Some fresh snow is expected over the next couple of days, generally light in the southern Swiss Alps (Zermatt), but heavier further north (Engelberg) where it may briefly settle to 1500m or lower.

 

In Italy you can still ski at altitude in Cervinia, though only at weekends until the end of May. Access to the glacier (shared with Zermatt) is then possible again from late June. Further east, the glacier at Passo Stelvio near Bormio opens on 30 May. Again, some snow is expected in Cervinia over the next few days though generally in modest quantities.

 

Austria offers the greatest number of skiing options at this time of year. Hintertux (open 365 days a year) is our pick right now, but you can also ski on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier near Kaprun(closes 25 May), the Dachstein glacier (no confirmed closing date as yet), the Kaunertal glacier (closes 7 June) and the Stubai glacier (closes 3 July). Austria will see the lion’s share of snow over the next few days with 50cm+ possible in places. It may also (temporarily) settle to 1500m or lower.

Updated: 9.15am Friday 15 May 2015 - Heavy snow for parts of the Alps!

 

On Wednesday the temperature hit 20°C at 2000m in the Alps, but today it is snowing as low as 1200m in some parts!

Engelberg, Switzerland Heavy snow on the slopes of Engelberg this morning! Photo: titlis.ch

The snow comes too late for the main ski season of course, but it will provide a welcome boost for the Alpine glaciers after the relatively modest snowfalls of the winter.

 

The heaviest snow will be in the western half of the Alps where 15-30cm will fall quite widely above 2000m, with 50cm+ in one or two favoured spots. An injection of unusually frigid air will also send the rain/snow level as low as 1200m across some northern parts of the Alps in the middle of the day, before rising again later. The wintry snap won’t last though, with freezing levels set to exceed 3000m again on Saturday.

 

Weather-permitting the following ski areas are open right now:

 

Switzerland – ZermattEngelbergDiavolezza

 

Italy – Cervinia (weekends only)

 

Austria – Hintertux, Stubai, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn, Dachstein