Today in the Alps...
Updated: 10.15am Friday 21 October 2016 - Lots of good skiing on the Alpine glaciers
The weather in the Alps will be mostly dry today, with a couple of exceptions. In the extreme south-east of Austria there are still a few residual showers from the recent storm (snow 1300m). Some showers (snow 1100-1300m) are also affecting the north-eastern Swiss and north-western Austrian Alps (e.g. Lech) though any accumulations of snow will be modest.
For much of the rest of the Alps it will be dry with variable cloud but generally plenty of sun, especially in the central and south-western Alps.
After a mostly fine day on Saturday, cloud and some showers will return to the south-western Alps on Sunday. However, with rising temperatures, any snow will be confined to relatively high altitude. The Foehn will also kick in in the northern Alps, lasting into the first part of next week, which means a rapid melting of any low-lying snow here, especially in northern Austria.
Snow conditions on the glaciers of the Austrian Alps are excellent, especially where there has been significant fresh snow in recent days. Best of all are Mölltal, Dachstein, Hintertux and Kaprun, all of which are in mint shape for October. The further west you go, the less fresh snow there has been, though generally speaking there is still some very enjoyable skiing to be had.
In Austria, all eight glacier ski areas are open with the best snow conditions in the resorts above. This weekend will also see the first (as far as we know) entirely non-glacial resort in Austria to open some pistes – on the Resterhöhe sector in Kitzbühel.
In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee, with Engelberg due to join them this weekend. These resorts have only seen a dusting of new snow in recent days but should still be able to offer some perfectly decent skiing, with the most extensive terrain in Zermatt and Saas-Fee.
In Italy you can ski on the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, with Cervinia joining the action this weekend (weekend only) and on a more permanent basis from 29 October on. Of these resorts, Passo Stelvio is probably in the best condition, though Cervinia will offer the most terrain – at least if the links to Zermatt are open over the weekend. We understand that Solda in the Südtirol will also open tomorrow.
In France you can ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes and, as of this weekend, in Les 2 Alpes which will open for half term only. Both glaciers have missed the heaviest of the recent snow but are still in good condition for October.
In the meantime, read our complete guide to early season snow conditions in the Alps
Where to ski in the Alps in October
1 October 2016
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Updated: 10.15am Thursday 20 October 2016 - Heavy snow in parts of the eastern Alps
As forecast, some eastern and south-eastern parts of the Alps have woken up to a significant fall of snow - 30cm+ above 2000m in places - with more to come this morning.
The heaviest snow has been in the eastern Austrian Alps, especially in the south-eastern Salzburgland, Styria and Carinthia. Parts of the Dolomites have also seen a moderate fall of snow but, except for the odd dusting, most other parts of the Alps have missed out on this occasion.
The snow-line started above 1700-2000m yesterday but fell steadily to reach 900-1400m overnight and first thing this morning. Today it will continue to snow for a while in the south-eastern Alps (especially Carinthia and the extreme north-eastern Dolomites) before gradually dying away later.
Elsewhere in the Alps, cloud cover is variable with the best of any sunshine at altitude and in the west/south-west. Most places will be dry but one or two showers (snow 1200-1400m) cannot be ruled out close to the northern foothills of the Alps later.
On Friday, the southern half of the Alps will see the best of the weather while the northern Alps catch a few showers (snow 1000-1400m), these heaviest in the northern Swiss and north-western Austrian Alps.
Over the weekend the airflow will gradually switch to a more southerly direction. This means that it will turn milder, but also unsettled in the south-western Alps (southern French and western Italian Alps) with showers and a little high altitude snow.
Snow conditions on the glaciers remain generally good for October. The areas with the most fresh snow are Mölltal, Hintertux, Kaprun and Dachstein, all of which should be skiing superbly this weekend. The further west you go, the less new snow there has been in recent days. Nevertheless the likes of Zermatt, Saas-Fee and Tignes can still all provide very enjoyable piste skiing.
For a full round up of what is open and what is opening this weekend, tune in to weathertoski tomorrow morning…
Updated: 9.50am Wednesday 19 October 2016 - Significant snow for some eastern parts of the Alps
An area of low pressure and its associated fronts are drifting slowly towards the Alps from the north, meanwhile a new low is forming in the Mediterranean. Over the next 36 hours or so the interaction of these lows is likely to deliver significant snow to some eastern and south-eastern parts of the Alps.
This morning there are already plenty of showers across Austria, especially to the east of Innsbruck, with a rain/snow limit sinking to between 1200-1500m later in the day. These showers will tend to intensify as the day goes on, especially in the eastern and southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Obertauern, Nassfeld), also developing across the border in the Dolomites (e.g. Cortina).
Except for a few showers across the far north, most other parts of the Alps will be dry today with variable cloud and the best of any sunshine in the south-west.
Tomorrow will see further snow (1000/1400m) in the eastern and south-eastern Austrian Alps (especially close to the Austrian/Slovenian border). Elsewhere, except for a few scattered light showers (mostly in the north) it will be dry with variable cloud and sunny periods. It will, however, feel cold for the time of year.
Over the next 36 hours we can expect 20-40cm of new snow above 1800m in some eastern parts of the Alps, especially the eastern and southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Obertauern, Bad Kleinkirchheim, Nassfeld) but also perhaps the far northern and eastern Dolomites.
Of the glaciers open right now, those that will benefit the most from the next storm will be the Dachstein, the Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun), Hintertux and Mölltal. Snow conditions on the glaciers are generally pretty good for October and will of course improve further in Austria over the next day or two.
In France you can ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes, with Les 2 Alpes joining the action (half term only) this weekend. Both resorts saw a moderate dump of snow last Friday so snow conditions should be pretty good.
In Italy, you can ski on the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, with Cervinia opening this weekend (weekend only) then permanently the weekend after. All three glacier areas have seen significant snow in recent days so skiing conditions should be good.
In Switzerland, you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee (both of which saw significant new snow last Friday) with the Diavolezza glacier set to join them this weekend. Engelberg is set to make a decision today on whether it will open this weekend (22 October). Glacier 3000 near Les Diablerets will open on 29 October.
All eight Austrian glaciers are open and in good condition, with the best skiing probably in Hintertux and Kaprun. The other open areas are Mölltal, Pitztal, Kaunertal, Sölden, Stubai and Dachstein.
Updated: 10.10am Tuesday 18 October 2016 - Remaining changeable and turning colder
The weather in the Alps looks set to remain unsettled for the rest of the week. With the air being drawn in increasingly from the north, it will also turn colder with significant snow possible to below 1000m in some of the eastern Alps by late Thursday.
Looking back at yesterday, and we saw some light snow in the western Alps (mostly the northern French and western Swiss Alps) but only above 2300m or so. Today these showers have spread further east to affect many northern parts of the Alps including Austria. They will remain mostly light in nature, but a few cm of new snow are possible above 1800-2200m. The southern half of the Alps will have the best of any sunshine.
Temperatures will continue to fall for the rest of the week with further showers in places, these heaviest in the eastern Alps with some significant snow possible in the southern and eastern Austrian Alps as well as the Dolomites later on Thursday. Watch this space…
In the meantime, snow conditions on the glaciers are pretty good for October, even if the weather will be less than ideal over the next few days. In France, you can ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes, with Les 2 Alpes joining the action (half term only) this weekend. Both resorts have seen fresh snow in recent days so snow conditions should be good.
In Italy you can ski on the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, with Cervinia opening this weekend, at the weekend only, then permanently from the weekend after. All three glacier areas have seen significant snow in recent days so skiing conditions should be good.
In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee, both of which saw significant new snow on Friday, with the Diavolezza glacier set to join them this weekend. Engelberg is set to make a decision tomorrow as to whether it will open this weekend (22 October). Glacier 3000 near Les Diablerets will open on 29 October.
All eight Austrian glaciers are open and in pretty good condition, with the best skiing probably in Hintertux and Kaprun. The other areas are Mölltal, Pitztal, Kaunertal, Sölden, Stubai and Dachstein.
Updated: 11.05am Monday 17 October 2016 - Unsettled week ahead
After a largely fine day yesterday, the weather in the Alps is turning more unsettled again, this time from the north-west. In fact, every day this week we can expect at least a little snow at altitude somewhere in the Alps.
Today, it is the northern French and western Swiss Alps that will see most of any snow, though it won’t amount to very much – just a few cm here and there above 2400m or so. Further east it will be mostly dry, though still rather cloudy.
On Tuesday, showers will extend further east to affect other northern parts of the Alps (snow 2100m) though snowfall totals will again be negligible. On Wednesday and Thursday there is the chance of some more significant snow in the eastern Alps, but the situation is complicated and the detail is likely to change.
In the meantime, most of the Alpine glaciers are skiing very well for October thanks to recent snowfall. All the Austrian glacier areas are now open - Hintertux, Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn Mölltal, Sölden, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Dachstein. These Austrian glaciers missed the heaviest of the snow on Friday/Saturday, but all did well from other storms early last week.
In Switzerland, you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee, both of which received large quantities of snow on Friday. In Italy, you can ski at Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, with Cervinia joining them this weekend (weekend only). These Italian resorts, especially Cervinia, also saw significant snowfall last Friday. In France, you can ski in Tignes, and Les 2 Alpes opens (for half term only) this weekend. Again, both resorts did well from last Friday’s storm, especially Les 2 Alpes.
Updated: 9.15am Sunday 16 October 2016 - Return of the sun
The weather in the Alps has settled down, with plenty of sunshine on offer across all regions today. The best skiing conditions are on the glaciers of the western Alps (Tignes, Zermatt and Saas-Fee), which saw the heaviest snow on Friday.
Further east, Val Senales and Passo Stelvio (both in Italy) also saw significant snow, but Austria missed most of the action this time round. Still, they had the lion’s share earlier in the week so conditions are ok, if a little wind-scoured in places.
The coming week will see further snow in places, especially at mid-week in the north-east. Stay tuned for details…
As for where it is currently possible to ski in the Alps:
- Austria - all the glaciers are now open for skiing (including the Dachstein). In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee.
- Italy - the only two options remain Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, though Cervinia will join them next weekend (weekends only).
- France - Tignes will be joined by Les 2 Alpes (for half term only) next weekend.
Updated: 9.20am Saturday 15 October 2016 - Powder day for the western glaciers!
Snow conditions are exceptional today in the western Alps, with sunny skies and powdery pistes on the glaciers at Tignes, Zermatt and Saas-Fee. Indeed Saas-Fee has announced that skiing will be possible all the way down to the middle station at Morenia (2550m).
These excellent Autumn skiing conditions come thanks to the recent storm which dumped 40-80cm of new snow across some southern French and western Italian resorts, as well as the far south of Switzerland.
Other glaciers to have benefited from at least some new snow include Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, but the Austrian glaciers have largely missed out this time around, though they did have the lion’s share of snow last week.
The recent storm saw snow falling as low as 1100-1400m for a time in the southern French and western Italian Alps (e.g. Sestriere, Courmayeur) before temperatures eventually rose later in the day yesterday.
However, thanks to the Foehn, temperatures rose much faster on the northern side of the Alps, which meant that any snow here was confined to between 2500m and 3200m by Friday afternoon.
Indeed we had a situation yesterday where it was still snowing to 1200m in Courmayeur on the Italian side of Mt Blanc, but only above 3000m in Chamonix on the northern side!
Today a few showers will persist in the eastern Alps but, generally speaking, the weather is improving and Sunday is expected to be fine across the board.
After a settled start next week, a little snow is expected to return to the Alps mid-week, mostly in the north. Watch this space…
Updated: 11.40am Friday 14 October 2016 - Wild and mild!
As expected we saw quite a lot of snow in the southern French and western Italian Alps yesterday, with 40cm or more at altitude in the Haute-Alpes (e.g. Serre-Chevalier) and southern Piedmont (e.g. Sestriere). The rain/snow limit was also quite low in these regions, 1100-1400m, before it started to rise overnight.
There will be further heavy snow in the south-western Alps today but, with warmer air flooding in, it will be confined to increasingly high altitudes. The heaviest precipitation will be this afternoon and evening in the northern Piedmont (e.g. Alagna), eastern Aosta (e.g. Cervinia/Champoluc), and the far south of Switzerland (from Zermatt eastwards to the Bernina Pass). However, the rain/snow limit will reach 2500-3000m by evening. Above 3000m these regions can expect 50-90cm of new snow by tomorrow afternoon.
In the northern half of the Alps there is currently a violent Foehn. Some showers will get through to the northern French and western Swiss Alps (snow 3000m+) but many northern regions are dry, very mild and very windy.
Whichever way you look at it, it is not a great day to be out and about in the high Alps, with most of the glacier areas either likely to be closed or partially closed due to adverse weather conditions.
Tomorrow, the Foehn will die down and the storm will attempt to move eastwards, but will die out as it does so. Some showers will extend further north and east (with a little snow above 2500-2700m) but sunnier skies will return to the western Alps.
After a relatively settled start to next week, the weather in the Alps will turn colder and more unsettled from the north or north-west mid-week, with further snow likely in places (particularly in the northern Alps).
Updated: 8am Thursday 13 October 2016 - Big change in the Alpine weather
It’s all change with the weather in the Alps today as active weather fronts move in from the south-west. In short, we can expect lots of precipitation in the south-western Alps over the next day or two but also a rising snow line. The greatest rise in temperature, however, will be reserved for the northern Alps, where a strong Foehn will kick in.
Today the bulk of the precipitation will be in the southern French, western Italian and extreme southern/south-western Swiss Alps where the rain/snow limit will start low (1100-1400m), especially on the Italian side, before slowly rising later.
The northern French Alps will also see some showers, but here they will be more scattered and the rain/snow limit will start higher (1800-2000m), and rise fast.
Except for a few showers in the central Italian Alps later today, most other Alpine regions will be dry, but with an increasingly strong Foehn wind in the northern half of the Alps.
Tomorrow, will see further heavy precipitation across the south-western Alps. Some sheltered valleys of the north-western Italian Alps (e.g. Aosta) may continue to see a relatively low rain/snow limit for a time but, generally speaking, freezing levels will be higher with the snowline more typically reaching 2300m to 2800m.
The northern Alps will continue mostly dry with a strong Foehn that will quickly melt any remaining low-lying snow. The storm will also struggle to make much progress eastwards, dying out in situ over the weekend.
So where will this leave the Alps in terms of snow conditions by the end of the weekend?
One thing is for sure, in terms of operating ski areas, the glaciers at Zermatt and Saas-Fee will see the most new snow - well over 50cm by most calculations. Tignes, Passo Stelvio and Val Senales will also see some fresh snow, though probably not as much. The Austrian glaciers, by contrast, will see little or no new snow from this storm, but they can hardly complain as they have had the lion’s share over the last week or so.
Another noticeable feature over the next few days will be the increase in temperature, especially across the Foehn-affected northern Alps, where any low lying snow will quickly disappear.
If you are planning to ski in the Alps over the next couple of days, expect plenty of disruption due to bad weather, especially wind. However, later this weekend and into the first part of next week the weather looks like being more settled. Stay tuned…