Today in the Alps...
Updated: 9.45am Tuesday 13 April 2021 - Looking very wintry in the Alps!
The Alps are under the influence of a cold north-easterly airflow that will bring further snow to the east today, particularly to Austria.
This follows a major storm that has delivered significant snow to low altitudes across most parts of the Alps. Given the strength of the sun at this time of year, any low-lying snow will soon melt again, of course, but not before there have been further accumulations in the east, notably in the central and eastern Austrian Alps (e.g. Obertauern).
Elsewhere in the Alps, there will be plenty of dry weather today with the best of any sunshine the further south-west you are. It will be cold and windy everywhere though. Looking further ahead, it will remain on the cold side for the rest of the week, with plenty of dry weather but also some flurries here and there, chiefly in the southern and eastern Alps.
Needless to say, snow conditions are excellent for the time of year in those few resorts still open. Note that publicly accessible lift served skiing in the Alps is still only possible in Austria and Switzerland though.
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Snowfall patterns in the French Alps
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Updated: 10.45am Monday 12 April 2021 - Widespread snow returns to the Alps!
Significant widespread snow has returned to the Alps, with the heaviest of today’s snow falling in central and southern regions.
Most of last weekend’s snow was confined to the south-western Alps (e.g. Isola 2000, Prato Nevoso, however, snow became more generalised in the west late on Sunday, pushing further east into the central Alps in the early hours of Monday morning.
Today the heaviest snow will fall in the central and south-eastern Alps (e.g. St Moritz, Livigno, Passo Tonale, Obergurgl) and in the Dolomites later in the day. The rain/snow limit will vary, but will generally sit between 400m and 700m in the central Alps but up to 1300m-1600m in some south-eastern areas before it descends to low levels later in the day and overnight.
Tuesday’s weather will remain unsettled with more snow in the eastern Alps, especially in Austria, while the western Alps enjoy a mostly dry, if rather chilly, day with sunny spells.
The rest of the week will remain on the cool side with plenty of dry weather but also a few snow showers here and there, most likely in the south and east.
On the whole, anyone lucky enough to be able to ski in the Alps this week should find excellent conditions for mid-April. Note that publicly accessible lift-accessed skiing remains confined to a handful of resorts in Switzerland and Austria though.
Updated: 12.30pm Friday 9 April 2021 - Changeable with more significant snow for some!
Temperatures have now recovered after a remarkable week of weather in the Alps, which saw record-breaking cold in some northern areas and some snow, chiefly across the northern Alps, and heaviest in Austria and Switzerland.
This unusually cold spell was the result of northerly wind coming straight from the Arctic, leading to temperatures dropping as low as -30°C in places above 3000m! The heaviest snow fell in the northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Engelberg) and north-western Austrian Alps (e.g. Kleinwalsertal), where more than 50cm has fallen this week.
After something of a reprieve today, the weather in the Alps will turn unsettled again this weekend but with most of the snow (1200-1600m) confined to the southern French and south-western Italian Alps, heaviest close to the high border areas. Most other parts of the Alps will stay dry this weekend, with variable cloud cover and the best of the sunshine the further north-east you are. It will be quite mild, and even warm in some Foehn-affected valleys of the central and northern Alps.
More significant and widespread snow is expected across the Alps on Monday, heaviest in the south, along with a general drop in temperature.
Updated: 12pm Sunday 4 April 2021 - Winter to return with a vengeance!
It is a lovely day in the Alps today, with almost wall to wall sunshine and pleasant but not excessively warm temperatures. It’s all change tomorrow though, with cold Arctic air set to flood south across the Alps later in the day.
This Arctic blast will bring significant snow to very low levels across the northern half of the Alps between Monday evening and Wednesday, with 30-50cm in some favoured parts of the northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Engelberg). The southern Alps will escape most of the snow, though it will also become cold and windy.
This imminent and dramatic return to winter follows last week’s very warm spell of weather when temperatures hit the twenties in some lower Alpine valleys. Not surprisingly, this led to a rapid thinning or loss of the snowpack across the lower slopes of the Alps. The breaks will be put on the spring thaw with the cold air next week though, leading to an expected net increase in snow depths across the northern Alps by the middle the week, at least above 1500m or so.
Anyone lucky enough to be able to ski in the Alps next week should find some excellent snow conditions on offer once the weather settles down from mid-week onwards. Note that lift-served publicly accessible skiing in the Alps is still only possible in parts of Switzerland and Austria.
Updated: 10.20am Tuesday 23 March 2021 - Fabulous snow conditions in the Alps…
It is a beautiful day across most of the Alps, with deep blue skies and crisp but not excessively cold temperatures. The only exception is the far eastern Austrian Alps, where there is still some cloud and a few flurries to low levels.
These residual flurries are the remnants of a northerly airflow that has been delivering plenty of snow showers to the northern Alps (particularly in the north-east) for several days now. For anyone lucky enough to be skiing in Switzerland or Austria right now (the only two countries where publicly accessible lift-served skiing is currently permitted), snow conditions are excellent for late March.
Fine weather is expected to continue across most of the Alps over the next couple of days before it turns briefly more unsettled again towards the end of the week, with a little snow for some, and during the first part of the weekend.
Updated: 9.50am Thursday 18 March 2021 - Massive snowfalls across northern Alps…
As expected, huge quantities of snow have fallen across the northern half of the Alps this week during what has proved to be one of the biggest storm cycles of the winter.
The biggest snowfalls have been in the central/eastern Swiss Alps, roughly in a triangle between Engelberg, Andermatt and Laax, where nearly 2m of new snow has fallen since Saturday.
Many other northern parts of the Alps have seen well in excess of 1m of new snow at altitude, including the northern French Alps (e.g. Flaine, Chamonix), much of the central and northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Crans Montana, Mürren, Engelberg, Laax) and the northern and western Austrian Alps (e.g. Lech and resorts close to Innsbruck).
Some Italian resorts (e.g. Cervinia, Courmayeur, Livigno) have also seen significant snow but, on the whole, the southern Alps have seen much less or even no snow at all. With the weather coming from the north this week, the rain/snow limit has generally been low, mostly below 800m.
Today many parts of the Alps will be dry and cold with variable cloud cover, with a few flurries still possible here and there, chiefly across the northern Austrian Alps (e.g. Kaprun) then later across the south-western Italian Alps (e.g. Sestriere).
Over the next few days snow showers will continue to affect many eastern parts of the Alps, especially the northern and eastern Austrian Alps (e.g. Obertauern), with further moderate accumulations in places. Elsewhere, many places will be dry with variable cloud cover and just a few flurries here and there, especially in the southern Piedmont (e.g. Sestriere). Temperatures will be below average for late March right across the Alps.
Updated: 8.50am Monday 15 March 2021 - Winter returns to the Alps with a vengeance…
As expected, winter returned to the Alps over the weekend with significant snow for some, especially in the north-western Alps. It will now continue to be wintry all week, with further heavy snow due across the northern half of the Alps.
Between 30cm and 50cm of new snow has already fallen above 1500m this morning across quite a wide swathe of the northern and north-western Alps, with 50cm at altitude in Crans Montana and Engelberg, for example.
Another 30-40cm of snow is possible today across these same northern and north-western regions, including the northern French Alps (e.g. Flaine, Avoriaz), most of Switzerland (away from the far south), and western Austria (e.g. Arlberg). The rain/snow limit will generally be very low, briefly rising to around 800m this afternoon before falling again overnight.
With this cold and unstable northerly airflow expected to persist for several days, storm totals could reach 100-120cm in places by Thursday. By contrast, the southern half of the Alps will see much less snow over the next few days. Some border areas (e.g. Cervinia) will see significant accumulations, but many southern areas will miss out this time around.
Updated: 9.45am Friday 12 March 2021 – A major new storm cycle is underway in the Alps…
After weeks of very mild and relatively dry weather in the Alps, a major change is underway with big snowfalls expected across many northern and western parts over the next few days.
Some snow has already fallen across some north-western parts of the Alps over the last 24 hours, with around 20cm above 2000m close to the French/Swiss border, for example. The real action will begin late on Saturday, however, when an active cold front is set to push down from the north-west, heralding several days of cold and very unstable air which will deliver large snowfall totals to many northern and north-western areas.
Areas including the northern French Alps (e.g 3 Valleys, Portes du Soleil), much of the Swiss Alps, especially in the north (e.g. Jungfrau region, Engelberg, Laax), and the northern and western Austrian Alps (e.g. St Anton) can expect between 40cm and 100cm of new snow above 1500m by the middle of next week, with up to 120cm in places (e.g. Arlberg region). The rain/snow limit will start at around 1200m on Saturday before lowering to around 500m on Sunday and remaining low next week.
Throughout this period the southern Alps will see much less snow, with some places staying completely dry.
Updated: 9.20am Tuesday 9 March 2021 - Turning more unsettled in the Alps…
There is quite a lot of cloud drifting around the Alps today, and while many places will stay dry, there will be a few light showers here and there with snow above 900-1200m. Some sunshine is also expected but it will be a bit hit and miss.
Wednesday will see a few showers or flurries to relatively low altitudes in the eastern Alps (notably in Austria) while the central and western Alps enjoy a mostly sunny day. On Thursday, Atlantic weather fronts will arrive from the west heralding a much more unsettled spell of weather in the Alps with more significant and widespread snow than we have seen recently.
The new storm cycle will have two peaks of precipitation, the first on Thursday night/Friday morning in the western Alps, notably in France and western Switzerland, where 15-30cm of new snow is expected above 2000m in resorts such as Val d’Isère and Verbier. It won’t be cold though, with rain to start with lower down (especially on Thursday night).
After a relative reprieve, there may be a more pronounced spell of snow across the northern Alps over the weekend. With much colder air moving down from the north, the rain/snow limit will be lower, dropping to 500m or less by Sunday. The most snow from this second peak will fall in resorts such as Avoriaz, Mürren, Engelberg and Lech, where another 30cm of snow can be expected above 1500m by the end of the weekend.
This snow will be welcome news for anyone lucky enough to be able to ski in the Alps right now (note that lift-served publicly accessible skiing in the Alps is still only available in Switzerland and Austria). While there has been a bit of new snow across some parts of the Alps in the last few days (with 20cm or so in the north last Friday, for example), the weather in the Alps has generally been very spring-like since the beginning of February, meaning that a lot of the snow at low altitude has now disappeared.
Updated: 10am Wednesday 3 March 2021 - Still mild in the Alps, but with snow for some northern parts later in the week…
There is a lot of cloud across the Alps today, especially in the west, but temperatures are mild with maximums between 10°C and 15°C in the lower valleys. The best of any sunshine will be in the far eastern Alps.
On Thursday, a cold front will move down from the north bringing showers to the northern Alps later in the day, with the rain/snow limit falling to between 1000m and 1500m. Showers will continue in some northern Alpine regions on Thursday night and into Friday, with between 5cm and 30cm of new snow expected in the northern Swiss Alps, and the northern and western Austrian Alps (e.g. Arlberg).
The northern French Alps and the entire southern half of the Alps will see very little if any snow, however. The sun should return to all Alpine regions on Saturday.
The new snow at the end of the week will make it feel a little more wintry again in some northern parts of the Alps. However, several weeks of very mild weather has now taken its toll on the snow-pack which, off-piste at least, is now quite fragmented at low altitude.
Indeed, the only areas which still have above average snow depths for early March are in the south-eastern Alps, including the Dolomites (e.g. Arabba, Madonna di Campiglio), the southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Nassfeld) and the south-eastern Swiss Alps (e.g. St Moritz).
Nearly all other Alpine regions have below average snow depths for the time of year, quite a contrast from the end of January when nearly all areas were considerably above average.
Updated: 12pm Friday 26 February 2021 - Turning slightly cooler, but with no significant snow on the horizon…
The weather in the Alps has turned a fraction cooler. Today will be mostly sunny again, though cloud will thicken in the north later, with a few light showers across the northern Alps tonight (snow lowering to 1000-1400m). High pressure will reassert itself over the weekend and into next week though, meaning plenty more fine and sunny weather across the Alps, albeit with lower temperatures than we have seen this week.
The weather in the Alps has been exceptionally warm this week, with record February temperatures in a number of locations. Chamonix reached 20.1°C on Thursday, the first ever time a temperature has hit 20°C here in February. Bourg Saint Maurice reached 21.5°C, also a record for February.
Needless to say, snow conditions have become very spring-like, with plenty of afternoon slush around, especially lower down and/or on slopes heavily exposed to the sun. Snow cover is still generally ok, even lower down (on-piste at least) thanks to the bumper snowfalls earlier in the season.
However, thanks to the recent warm weather, the lower valleys are now showing plenty of greenery, with more snow and/or an extended spell of significantly colder weather needed soon to avoid problems at low altitude later in the season.
Note that lift-served publicly accessible skiing in the Alps is still confined to Austria and Switzerland.
Updated: 9am Wednesday 24 February 2021 - Still exceptionally mild in the Alps, but set to cool down on Friday…
The weather in the Alps has been exceptionally mild in recent days, with temperatures close to or even above 20°C in some of the lower valleys of the central and northern Alps.
This unusually warm spell of weather is due to a large area of high pressure that has been sitting to the east of the Alps, drawing up air from the south. Not only has this air mass been warm, but the Foehn has also been blowing across many central and northern parts of the Alps pushing temperatures even higher still.
It will be exceptionally mild in the Alps today and tomorrow, but it will turn noticeably cooler on Friday as the wind switches to a more easterly direction. There will also be some light showers across the northern fringes of the Alps with a dusting of snow to between 1400m and 1800m.
For anyone lucky enough to be skiing in the Alps this week, snow conditions have been decidedly spring-like with afternoon slush increasingly prevalent at low altitudes and/or on slopes heavily exposed to the sun.
Thanks to copious snowfall earlier in the season, there is still generally plenty of snow around, though some lower valleys are now looking much greener than they were just a couple of weeks ago. Note that publicly accessible lift-served skiing in the Alps remains limited to Switzerland and Austria.
Updated: 2pm Saturday 20 February 2021 - Spring has sprung in the Alps!
The weather in the Alps will be mostly dry and very mild for at least a week. The Foehn will affect some central and northern parts of the Alps over the next couple of days, with maximum temperatures set to approach 20°C in some of the lower valleys. Apart from some cloud in the western Alps on Monday, it will be mostly dry and quite sunny at times.
From Tuesday onwards the Foehn will die away, leaving the whole of the Alps with an extended period of relatively calm, sunny and unseasonably warm weather.
As this current spell of mild weather began nearly a week ago, it has led to a steady thaw lower down. With freezing levels expected to remain close to or even above 3000m this week (not to mention the ever-strengthening sun), this thaw will accelerate further over the coming days.
If you are lucky enough to be able to ski in the Alps this week, there is still plenty of snow although you should expect spring-like conditions with increasingly pronounced freeze-thaw cycles at lower altitudes and/or in areas heavily exposed to the sun. If you are looking for your snow to remain firm and grippy all day long you should be looking to stick to north-facing terrain above 2000m, perhaps even as high as 2300m.
Note that the only publicly accessible lift-served skiing is still confined to Switzerland and Austria.