Today in the Alps...
Updated: 10am Tuesday 22 September 2020 - Big early snowfalls on their way to the Alps!
Fasten your seatbelts! A dramatic change in the weather in the Alps is expected by the end of this week, with temperatures set to drop by at least 15°C and heavy snow falling to relatively low levels, especially across the northern Alps.
This change comes courtesy of a series of cold fronts that will drag colder and colder air down from the Arctic. The drop in temperature will start to be noticeable on Thursday, when the rain/snow limit will initially start at around 3000m, before dropping towards 2000-2300m later in the day. On Friday, the snowline will lower to 1200-1500m across the northern Alps, then to below 1000m in places on Saturday!
By Sunday we can expect 30cm to 60cm of new snow above 2500m quite widely across the northern half of the Alps (e.g. Tignes, Chamonix, Verbier, Mürren, Engelberg, St Anton), with 75cm or more in some favoured spots such as the Austrian Arlberg (St Anton, Lech, Zürs). Significant accumulations to lower levels are also likely for a time, with a dusting possible to as low as 700-900m in places on Saturday!
Many southern Alpine resorts will also see some snow (with 30cm or more possible at altitude in resorts such as Livigno and Passo Tonale), but generally not in the same quantities as further north.
Modest September snowfalls are quite common in the Alps, but a winter storm as potent as the one we are expecting later this week is relatively rare and certainly not something that you see every year. But before you get too excited, it is still unlikely to mean much in terms of how the rest of the Autumn, or indeed winter will pan out.
This week’s storm may bring enough snow for some or even most of the glaciers to set up a good “wintry” base for the autumn, but below glacier level most of the snow would be expected to disappear again fairly quickly.
That said, some weather models are suggesting that another big winter storm could arrive from the north in early October. If that does materialise, this could lead to some sort of lasting base in places above 2200-2500m. Watch this space!
Snow reports and weather & snow forecasts will return in Autumn 2020
Our complete guide to...
Snowfall patterns in the French Alps
16 September 2020
Ever wondered why some areas of the French Alps get more snow than others?
Updated: 10.30am Wednesday 16 September 2020 – Warm weather in the Alps this week…
The weather is pretty warm this week across the Alps, with September continuing the trend from summer, when temperatures were again above average, and August proved exceptionally hot overall.
Skiing conditions on the glaciers were generally good early in the summer season, thanks to the impressive snowfalls at high altitude last winter, but they deteriorated quite markedly later in summer, especially in France - a recurring theme in recent years. That said, summer skiing conditions in the Alps were slightly better overall this year than in 2019.
Mid-September is one of the quietest periods for skiing in the Alps, with only a handful of glaciers open. In Austria you can currently ski on the Hintertux glacier where the snow is 65cm deep and 20km of pistes are open. In Italy you can ski on the Stelvio glacier (9km of pistes, 155cm snow depth), while in Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt (15km of pistes and 220cm snow depth) and Saas-Fee (20km of pistes, 200cm snow depth).
France currently has no lift-served skiing open, although Tignes hopes to commence skiing on its Grande Motte glacier on 17 October 2020.
Updated: 10am Tuesday 9 June 2020 - Fresh snow for the glaciers…
The weather in the Alps is currently very unsettled with significant fresh snow at high altitude, and a dusting as low as 1000m in places in south-east Switzerland.
Fresh snow is not uncommon at high altitude in the Alps in June but it is nonetheless great news for the summer ski season which is already underway in a number of resorts (see our post from 4 June below for more details about where is open when).
The snow that fell to 1000m was confined to a specific valley in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, but over the last couple of days the rain/snow limit has more generally been oscillating between 1700m and 2500m, with between 10cm and 30cm of fresh snow falling above 3000m across much of the Alps.
The weather in the Alps will remain rather unsettled for the foreseeable future, with showers and an increasing risk of thunderstorms as it turns warmer later in the week.
If you are lucky enough to be based in or near the Alps and can visit a summer ski area this week, you will need to pick your moment - Friday is likely to be the best weather day overall.
Updated: 10.30am Thursday 4 June 2020 – Latest news on summer skiing in the Alps…
While many people’s plans for summer skiing in the Alps this year may be hampered by restrictions on international travel due to the coronavirus, several glaciers are now open, with more to follow soon. The weather is also on the turn, with fresh snow forecast to 2000m or lower over the next couple of days.
Austria was the first of the main Alpine countries to ease skiing restrictions, with three of its glacier areas having opened for summer skiing on 29 May, albeit with social distancing measures in place. As it stands, the Kaunertal glacier is set to close again on 7 June, while the Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun) will continue until 21 July. The Hintertux glacier should remain open all year round. Elsewhere in Austria, the Mölltal glacier plans to open on Saturday (6 June) and will remain operational throughout the summer and autumn, snow and government restrictions permitting.
Summer skiing in Switzerland is set to kick off next month, with Zermatt intending to open on 6 July and nearby Saas-Fee on 11 July.
In France, summer skiing will be possible between 6 June and 11 July in Val d’Isère while neighbouring Tignes plans to operate between 20 June and 2 August. Les 2 Alpes will also be offering summer skiing to the public as of 27 June, with some slopes open earlier for ski race training. Their summer season is scheduled to finish in late August, but in previous years excessively warm summers have often forced earlier closure.
In Italy, Cervinia plans to offer summer skiing from 29 June to 8 September.
As for the weather in the Alps, it has turned unsettled recently with fresh snow at high altitude, especially in the north and west. Further showers are likely over the next couple of days, with the rain/snow limit lowering to between 1600m and 2000m in places - expect between 10cm and 20cm of fresh snow across most of the Alpine glaciers by the end of the weekend!