Today in the Alps...
Updated: 10.40am Saturday 3 December 2016 - Lots more sunshine at altitude
The cold front that brought a little snow to the north-eastern Austrian Alps yesterday has died out in situ, thanks to a huge area of high pressure that is centred to the north of the Alps, which will continue to influence the Alpine weather for quite some time. In short, there won’t be any significant new snow in the Alps for at least a week, probably longer.
Today we have lots of sunshine at altitude but also some significant areas of low cloud, with an upper limit above 2000m in some southern parts of the Alps, lower in the north. It will continue to be mostly fine all week before things (perhaps) become more unsettled from the west next weekend – but that’s still a long way off.
In the meantime, the recent settled weather has been ideal for snow-making, especially in the eastern Alps where it has been that bit colder. Dozens of resorts are now open for the season, though most with artificial help. The Dolomiti Superski area (e.g. Cortina, Selva, Alta Badia, Kronplatz), for example, is already offering 393km of pistes, mostly on man-made snow. The low lying Ski Welt region in Austria (e.g. Söll, Ellmau) also has fantastic snow-making capabilities and has over 80km of runs in operation.
The best natural snow conditions, however, remain at altitude in the western and south-western resorts such as Cervinia, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, the Monte Rosa Region, Val d’Isère, Tignes, Val Thorens and Montgenèvre. However, there is also very little snow below 1800-2000m here, as is the case across much the Alps.
Latest snow forecast
2 December 2016
The weather in the Alps will stay mostly fine for the foreseeable future...
Latest snow report
1 December 2016
Snow conditions in the Alps remain highly variable depending on altitude and location...
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Updated: 8.50am Friday 2 December 2016 - Mostly fine, a little snow in the far north-east
We are expecting a little snow in the far north-eastern Alps today, but for most the Alps it will be another dry day with plenty of sunshine. Looking further ahead and there is still no sign of any significant snow in the Alps for at least 8 to 10 days.
Today’s snow will be mostly confined to the north-eastern Austrian Alps (mostly to the east of Salzburg) with a rain/snow limit around 500-700m. Quantities will be quite modest, but 5-15cm is possible in a few resorts such as Hinterstroder and Grünau. Elsewhere in the Alps it’s a glorious day with largely sunny skies. It will feel quite pleasant at altitude in any sunshine but will remain cold in the shadier valleys under temperature inversions.
There will be little change in the weather in the Alps over the weekend and throughout the whole of next week. Expect mostly dry conditions with some valley cloud/fog but plenty of sunshine at altitude. Skiing conditions will be very pleasant on slopes exposed the sun at medium altitudes, where temperatures will often be highest.
Snow conditions remain excellent at altitude in the western and south-western Alps. Some of the best conditions in the Alps right now can be found in resorts such as Val d’Isère, Tignes, Val Thorens, Montgenèvre and Cervinia. Elsewhere in the Alps there is also plenty of decent piste skiing at altitude even if snow depths are generally much more modest.
Resorts that are managing ok on-piste on relatively little snow (often with artificial help) include Ischgl, Obergurgl, Obertauern, Davos, Kronplatz, to name just a few – with lots more openings planned for this weekend.
It should be stressed, however, that snow cover is generally patchy or non-existent below about 1800-2000m and, with no significant snow forecast for at least 8-10 days, the pressure is on in the lower resorts in the Alps in the run up to Christmas for the fourth year running!
Updated: 9.55am Thursday 1 December 2016 - Continuing mostly settled
The weather in the Alps has settled down this week and will remain settled for quite some time to come, apart from a little snow in the extreme north-eastern Alps over the next 24 hours.
The snow will be modest and mostly confined to the north-eastern Austrian Alps (e.g. St Wolfgang, Hinterstroder). For the vast majority of the Alps, however, there is no snowfall for the foreseeable future – that being 8-10 days at least.
Snow conditions in the Alps remain highly variable – still excellent at altitude in the west and south-west (e.g. Val d’Isère, Tignes, Val Thorens, Cervinia). By contrast, below about 1800-2000m natural snow cover is (with one or two exceptions) patchier or non-existent.
We say natural snow cover because snow-making is underway on an industrial scale, especially in the eastern Alps (e.g. Austria, Dolomites) where it is coldest this week. Further west, freezing levels are higher, but snow-making is also possible at times, especially at night.
Updated: 8.15am Wednesday 30 November 2016 - Very little new snow in the foreseeable future
High pressure will dominate the weather in the Alps this week, though a weakening cold front will brush the north-eastern Alps on Friday. We can therefore expect mostly dry and sunny weather over the next few days (at least above any stubborn low cloud or fog patches) with just a little snow in the extreme eastern Austrian Alps on Thursday night and Friday.
It will feel mild this week in any sunshine, especially on south-facing slopes. By contrast, north-facing slopes and shady valleys could remain frosty for much of the day.
Snow conditions in the Alps remain very mixed, with generally very little useful snow below 1800m or so. By contrast, above 2000m snow cover is more consistent and in some western and south-western parts of the Alps very impressive for the time of year, thanks to last week’s big storm.
The best skiing conditions can be found in the resorts of the western and south-western Alps which have most of their slopes above 2000m - such as Val d’Isère, Tignes, Cervinia and Zermatt - though it should also be noted that large scale snow-making is underway in a number of areas, especially in the eastern Alps where it will be coldest this week (e.g. Dolomites).
However, apart from a little snow in the extreme eastern Alps at the end of the week, there is little snow forecast for the foreseeable future (by that we mean at least 10 days).
Updated: 10.15am Tuesday 29 November 2016 - Blue skies for most
High pressure is firmly in charge of the Alps and will continue to dominate the weather (give or take) for the foreseeable future. We say give or take because a cold front will clip the eastern Alps later on Thursday and on Friday, with a little snow for the eastern Austrian Alps. However, for the vast majority of regions it will remain fine and dry all of this week, and probably most of next week as well.
Snow conditions in the Alps remain very mixed. High resorts in the western/south-western Alps are offering fabulous skiing right now thanks to last week’s huge snowfalls. The very best lift-served options (in our opinion) are still Val d’Isère, Tignes, Val Thorens, Cervinia and Zermatt, all of which have a lot of high altitude skiing.
There are also plenty of options further north and east, at least if you aim high, with Davos, St Moritz, Ischgl, Obergurgl and Obertauern all offering a good number of pistes on a mixture of natural and man-made snow.
Below about 1800-2000m though, snow cover is generally quite patchy or in some cases non-existent. The bad news for these areas is that, except for a little snow in the north-eastern Alps later on Thursday and Friday, there is no major dump in prospect for at least 10 days.
The good news though is that snow-making is in progress on an industrial scale, especially in the eastern Alps (e.g. Dolomites) where the temperatures are coldest.
Updated: 9.10am Monday 28 November 2016 - Mostly fine
Skiing conditions were superb in the western/south-western Alps over the weekend. Val d’Isère grabbed most of the headlines with prodigious quantities of new snow (at altitude) and blue skies for opening day on Saturday. However, lots of other resorts were also skiing superbly, including those in the Monte Rosa region, Cervinia, Saas-Fee, Zermatt and Val Thorens, to name just a few.
So all is well in the higher resorts of the south-western Alps, however, we need to bear in mind that for most areas the recent mild weather has taken its toll and that, as a rule, there is still very little snow below 1800-2000m.
Some parts of Austria have woken up to a dusting of new snow this morning, and one or two early flurries are still apparent to relatively low altitudes in the north of the country. However, the vast majority of the Alps will by dry today, with plenty of sunshine above any low-lying cloud/fog. This settled theme will continue for much of the week, with plenty of fine weather and cool but not excessively cold temperatures.
A cold front will graze the north-eastern Alps on Thursday bringing some snow to low levels to parts of Austria – especially Upper Austria, Styria and the Salzburgland. Generally speaking though, there is no widespread new snow in view for at least 7-10 days.
Updated: 8.20am Saturday 26 November 2016 - Perfect timing by Val d’Isère
Val d’Isère gets underway today, and there can’t have been many better opening days than this! Yes it’s a bit of a mess at resort level – most of the precipitation from the recent storm fell as rain below 2000m – but skies have now cleared to reveal up to 2m of fresh snow at altitude.
2m of new snow in 36 hours is exceptional by any standards, but there was even more in the Maurienne where 2.5m fell in the high border areas above Bonneval-sur-Arc and Val Cenis. It is even possible that more than 3m came down in parts of the Italian Piedmont! Needless to say, avalanche danger is extremely high in these areas.
Now for a reality check. While some south-western parts of the Alps have seen exceptional amounts of snow at in recent days, most of the Alps are actually suffering due to 10 days or so of exceptionally mild weather. Yes, there is still reasonable cover above 2000m thanks to the big snowfalls earlier in the month but, lower down, snow is now patchy or non-existent. It will turn cooler over the next few days which should allow the snow cannons to operate, but there isn’t a huge amount of new snow in the medium term forecast.
In terms of where to find the best skiing this weekend, our top pick is Val I’Isère, which opens today to huge amounts of fresh snow, and links to neighbouring Tignes. Val Thorens is also skiing well, though snowfall totals here were much more modest.
In Switzerland, Zermatt and Saas-Fee remain the best options. There still isn’t much snow at resort level but conditions up top will be excellent.
In Italy the two best options are Cervinia and the Monte Rosa region, both of which have seen masses of new snow at altitude.
Snow conditions are not so good in Austria, which missed most of the recent snow. However, there are plenty of options available, the best of which are Sölden, Hintertux and non-glacial Ischgl, which offers the greatest extent of open pistes in the country.