Today in the Alps...
Updated: 8.10am Thursday 30 October 2014 - Fine weekend then snow for the south next week
It’s another glorious day for most of the Alps with lots of sunshine and freezing levels around or above 3000m. All change next week though with significant snow likely for the southern Alps, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Next week’s storm will be very different to last week’s which saw the heaviest snow fall in the north-eastern Alps, especially Austria. This time the heaviest snow is expected to fall across the southern Alps, and Italy in particular.
In the meantime, the weekend is looking glorious which is good news for anyone lucky enough to be skiing in one of the 18 resorts expected to be open (see yesterday’s Today in the Alps for the full list). The best conditions remain in Austria with Hintertux and Sölden offering the greatest extent and variety of slopes.
Snow forecasts and snow reports will be back in November 2014
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Updated: 8.10am Wednesday 29 October 2014 – Still mostly fine in the Alps
It’s another fine, relatively mild day across most of the Alps with just some patchy cloud here and there, mostly at low altitude. The next chance of any significant snow is around 4 to 5 November.
There are currently 16 ski areas open in the Alps. In Austria the most extensive slopes are in Hintertux and Sölden but you can also ski in on the glaciers at Stubai, Mölltal, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Kaprun. The Dachstein glacier near Schladming will re-open at the weekend.
In Switzerland the best of the action is in Zermatt and Saas-Fee, but you can also ski in Engelberg, Diavolezza (near St Moritz) and Glacier 3000 (near Les Diablerets). The Vorab glacier above Laax will also open this weekend.
In Italy you can ski on the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio though the latter is due to close on Sunday 2 November. By contrast, Cervinia will open daily as of this weekend (with most of the skiing on the Zermatt side, at least for now).
In France you can ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes and in Les 2 Alpes, with the latter closing again this weekend before reopening for the winter in late November.
The weather is set fair (give or take) for the next few days but there have been indications for some time now that it will turn much more unsettled around 4 November with the chance of some snow in places. As per usual the different weather models are struggling with the detail this far out but it looks like the southern Alps might be most favoured this time around. Whatever the case, this is something we will be keeping a close eye on over the next few days...
Updated: 9am Tuesday 28 October 2014 - Great glacier skiing, especially in Austria
With high pressure dominant, the Alps are in for several days of calm, mostly dry weather with a little cloud here and there but also plenty of sunshine, particularly at altitude. The next chance of significant snow is around 4 to 5 November but it is far too early to be certain about this.
In the meantime the best conditions are in the Austrian Alps, best of all probably in Hintertux where 15 lifts are serving 40km of runs, mostly but not entirely on the glacier. Another good bet is Sölden with 8 lifts and 31km of pistes, but you can also ski on the glaciers at Stubai, Kaprun, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Mölltal. The Dachstein glacier near Schladming is currently open at weekends only.
In Switzerland the most extensive skiing is on the glaciers at Zermatt and Saas-Fee, but you can also ski in Engelberg, Glacier 3000 (near Les Diablerets) and Diavolezza (near St Moritz).
In Italy you can ski at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, with Cervinia reopening for the winter this weekend.
In France you can ski in Tignes and Les 2 Alpes, the latter closing again on Sunday to reopen for the winter at the end of November.
Updated: 8.10am Monday 27 October 2014 – All calm again in the Alps
It’s a glorious morning at altitude today but low cloud remains trapped in some valley bottoms. This won’t bother anyone lucky enough to be skiing on one of the many available glaciers today where on the whole conditions are excellent, especially in Austria.
The weather will remain stable for the foreseeable future with variable cloud but also plenty of sunshine, particularly at altitude. It will be also be relatively mild for the time of year.
Right now you can ski on 16 Alpine glaciers. In Austria this means in Hintertux, Stubai, Sölden, Mölltal, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Kaprun. In Switzerland - Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Glacier 3000, Engelberg and Diavolezza. In Italy - Val Senales and Passo Stelvio (Cervinia reopens daily this weekend). In France - Tignes and Les 2 Alpes - the latter closing again this weekend before reopening for the winter at the end of November.
Updated: 9.30am Sunday 26 October 2014 – Four more Alpine glaciers have opened this weekend
Four Alpine glaciers opened for the first time this weekend. In Switzerland, Engelberg and Glacier 3000 (near Les Diablerets/Gstaad) joins Zermatt, Saas-Fee and Diavolezza (near St Moritz) and in France, Les 2 Alpes joins Tignes, but only for nine days, before reopening properly at the end of November. There was also a new addition in Austria (where eight glaciers are now open) in the form of the tiny Dachstein glacier near Schladming (weekend only).
The weather has settled down now after the big storms earlier in the week and looks set fair (give or take) for at least a week. This means a rapid loss of new snow cover at low altitude and on slopes exposed to the south, particularly in the southern and western Alps. However, any snow loss in the very snowy north-eastern Alps will be less evident, particularly at altitude where it will remain white for some time to come. There are indications of another possible snowfall around 5 November but this is a long way off and lots can change before that time.
In the meantime, the best skiing in the Alps is on the Austrian glaciers where there was between 60 and 100cm of new snow earlier in the week.
Hintertux is our current pick for the best combination of variety and extent of skiing available.
Updated: 8.10am Friday 24 October 2014 - Storm over – what next?
There were a few more cm of snow in the central and eastern Austrian Alps last night but essentially the big storm is now over. So how much snow actually fell and will it stick around?
Official Austrian sources confirm that 60-100cm of new snow fell above 1500m between Tuesday and Thursday across a wide swathe of the central and northern Austrian Alps with up to 130cm in a few very favoured spots. At (or close to) resort level the highest figure was 73cm in Warth am Arlberg near Lech. Two examples of locations that saw a metre or more were the top of the Schmittenhöhe (1956m) above Zell-am-See and the Höhe Tauern national park near Obertauern (2315m).
In Switzerland the national avalanche service confirm that 60-80cm fell in the north-eastern quarter of the Swiss Alps (roughly in a line from Andermatt across to Davos and northwards). 30-60cm also fell at altitude in the Bernese Oberland (Wengen, Mürren) and the Lower Engadin but it was generally less than 30cm in the west of the country and little or nothing in the far south.
France also saw some snow, though in more modest quantities, with 5-30cm at altitude across the northern Alps - but the far south remained completely dry.
Not surprisingly Italy also missed the lion’s share though there were a few cm here and there close to the border regions.
So the big question now is will any of this snow stick around?
There are lots of factors that go into answering this question but our view is this - above about 2000m and on slopes not too exposed to the sun there is probably enough snow now in the north-eastern Alps for it to remain until winter. The one thing that could really scupper this theory is a warm, moist Atlantic airflow, but there is no sign of that in the near future. Indeed with high pressure dominating the weather is set fair for some time now which means cold nights and mild sunny days. This might not sound ideal for snow preservation, but it will allow the fresh snow to bed down nicely and any snow loss will be slow and predictable (at altitude).
So this recent snowfall only stands a chance of being significant (in terms of the beginning of the season) in the north-eastern quarter of the Alps.
Right now you can ski on 13 Alpine glaciers. In Austria - Hintertux, Stubai, Mölltal, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Rettenbach (Sölden) and Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun). In Italy - Val Senales and Passo Stelvio (Cervinia opens again at the weekend). In Switzerland - Zermatt, Saas-Fee and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz, with Engelberg and Glacier 3000 opening this weekend. In France you can still only ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes, but Les 2 Alpes will open this weekend (for the half term period only).