Today in the Alps...
Updated: 10am Monday 30 November 2020 – Major pattern change imminent!
After a very dry November, the weather in the Alps is on the change, with snow likely for many regions at some point this week.
Today will again be dry with plenty of sunshine at altitude, however, a cold front will deliver snow to the northern Alps tomorrow with a rain/snow limit falling to between 400m and 800m. Accumulations will be relatively modest, typically with 5-15cm above 1500m (e.g. Avoriaz, Mürren, Lech) while some southern parts of the Alps will remain mostly or even completely dry.
Later in the week, attention will turn towards the southern Alps where much more significant snowfall is likely. Indeed, by next weekend we could be looking at some extreme snowfall totals in places. Stay tuned!
Skiing in the Alps is still only possible in Switzerland due to Covid-19 related restrictions elsewhere. Today you can ski in eight Swiss resorts, these being Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Glacier 3000, Engelberg, Laax, Arosa, Davos-Klosters and St Moritz – the most that have been open on a Monday so far this season – albeit in most cases still only on a very limited basis.
Snow conditions are mediocre for late November. There is some reasonable piste skiing on hard-packed pistes in the open Swiss resorts but below glacier level artificial snow is necessary (e.g. in Arosa). The weather in the Alps is on the change though, meaning fresh snow for most areas by the weekend, if not before.
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Snowfall patterns in the French Alps
16 September 2020
Ever wondered why some areas of the French Alps get more snow than others?
Updated: 12pm Saturday 28 November 2020 - The weather pattern in the Alps is changing…
The weather pattern in the Alps is finally starting to change – good news after a month of mostly dry weather and just a couple of minor snowfalls.
Today it is snowing in the far southern Piedmont (e.g. Limone, Passo Tonale), where 5-15cm is expected by the end of the day. There may also be a sprinkling over the border in resorts such as Isola 2000 but, for the vast majority of the Alps, it will be another dry day with more and more sunshine the further north and east you are.
After a couple more mostly fine days on Sunday and Monday, a cold front will bring some snow to the Alps on Tuesday, mostly to the north where the rain/snow limit will descend to between 400m and 800m. Quantities of snow will generally be quite modest, typically 5-10cm above 1200m, but with 20cm+ in a few favoured spots. More significant and widespread snow is then likely later in the week.
A dozen or so ski areas are partially open this weekend, all of which are in Switzerland. Covid-related restrictions have closed all resorts to the public elsewhere in the Alps. New to the list of openings are St Moritz’s Corvatsch and Corviglia areas, while the nearby Diavolezza glacier has now closed again until 23 December. Saas-Fee and Zermatt remain the best bets in terms of variety and extent of open terrain.
Updated: 10.30am Friday 27 November 2020 – Another fine day in the Alps, snow for far south-west tomorrow…
It’s another glorious day in the Alps, at least above any low cloud or fog, which is continuing to plague certain valleys, mostly those close to the northern foothills.
Some snow (1200-1500m) will clip the far south-eastern French (e.g. Isola 2000) and south-western Italian Alps (e.g. Limone) tomorrow, with increasingly bright skies the further north and east you are. After another couple of mostly fine days on Sunday and Monday, a weak cold front could then bring a little snow (800-1000m) to the northern Alps on Tuesday, especially in the north-east, but it probably won’t amount to very much.
Later next week we are likely to see a more substantial change in the weather, with some significant snow for the southern Alps.
Six resorts are open for skiing to the public today, all in Switzerland, these being Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Glacier 3000, Engelberg, Andermatt and Davos/Klosters. As regular followers of weathertoski will be aware, up to 11 Swiss resorts have been open over recent weekends though.
Snow conditions are fine for on-piste skiing, but snow cover is generally very modest for late November. Some artificial snow-making has been in evidence over the last few days, and should in theory be increased next week as temperatures drop. However, with the recent announcement that French ski resorts are now unlikely to open until well into the New Year (and the possibility of other countries following suit), it remains to be seen whether this will be continue to be considered commercially viable.
The next time any ski areas that are open to the public (i.e. those in Switzerland) will see any new snow will be on Tuesday, but probably only in the northern Swiss resorts (e.g. Engelberg) and, even then, only in modest quantities.
Updated: 11am Thursday 26 November 2020 – Mostly fine, but turning colder from the east over the weekend…
The weather in the Alps remains settled, with some low cloud here and there but almost wall-to-wall sunshine at altitude.
After a similar day tomorrow, a few isolated flurries are possible in the far south-western Alps on Saturday (e.g. Isola 2000), otherwise it will be another fine day for most regions. The weather will turn colder this weekend, however, especially in the eastern Alps.
It looks like the weather in the Alps will then remain mostly fine but rather cool for most of next week, with plenty of sunshine (at least at altitude). It may turn a little more unsettled towards the end of next week, but there is still plenty of uncertainty about this, so watch this space!
Today only five resorts are open for skiing to the public, all of these in Switzerland. These are Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Glacier 3000, Engelberg and Davos/Klosters. As regular followers of weathertoski will be aware, up to 11 Swiss resorts have been open over recent weekends though.
Snow conditions are fine for on-piste skiing, but snow cover is generally very modest for late November. Some artificial snow-making has been in evidence over the last few days, and should in theory be increased next week as temperatures drop.
However, with the recent announcement that French ski resorts are now unlikely to open until well into the New Year (and the possibility of other countries following suit), it remains to be seen whether this will be continue to be considered commercially viable.
Updated: 10.30am Wednesday 25 November 2020 - Remaining mostly fine this week…
High pressure is still dominating the weather in the Alps, with plenty of sunshine at altitude but also some significant areas of low cloud, these most apparent close to the northern foothills.
There will be little change in the weather over the next few days, with plenty more sun and some very mild temperatures at altitude. A little snow is possible over the weekend in the southern Alps, mostly likely in the far south-west, though this is far from certain. The outlook for next week is also somewhat uncertain, but it seems unlikely that we will see any significant widespread snow any time soon.
Today only five resorts are open for skiing to the general public, still all in Switzerland. These are Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Glacier 3000, Engelberg and Davos/Klosters.
As regular followers of weathertoski will be aware, up to 11 Swiss resorts have been open over recent weekends. Snow conditions are fine for on-piste skiing, but snow cover is generally very modest for late November. Snow cannons have been in use in places but, as it has not been that cold, this has not been on an industrial scale.
Updated: 10am Monday 23 November 2020 - A mostly fine week with some snow possible for the southern Alps by the weekend…
High pressure continues to dominate the weather in the Alps, meaning that it will stay dry and mostly sunny (at altitude at least) until the end of the week. It is possible that a Mediterranean storm could deliver some snow to the southern Alps next weekend, but this is still some way off so far from certain yet.
As regular followers of weathertoski will be aware, Switzerland is currently the only Alpine country offering any skiing to the public right now, due to Covid-related restrictions having closed the slopes elsewhere. Over the weekend 11 Swiss resorts were open for snowsports. Today this is down to five, namely Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Engelberg, Glacier 3000 and Davos-Klosters. Of these, Saas-Fee is currently by far the most extensive option with over 50km of pistes open. Zermatt is second with around 26km.
Skiing conditions will generally be quite pleasant this week, with plenty of fine weather and relatively mild temperatures, particularly at altitude. Recent snowfall will stick around on north-facing slopes for a while, giving the impression that there is quite a lot of snow in some areas, however, on the whole, there is less snow in the Alps than there should be for late November with still no base to speak of in the majority of resorts. This isn’t all that unusual though - some of the best seasons haven’t got going until well into December.
As we mentioned earlier, some snow is possible in the southern Alps this weekend, but there is still no sign of any significant widespread snow any time soon. This is not of huge concern to most resorts yet as, given the current Covid-related restrictions, many don’t plan to open until well into December anyway.
Updated: 2.30pm Sunday 22 November 2020 – No return to winter any time soon…
High pressure is once again dominating the weather in the Alps, with no sign of any new snow falling any time soon. Not long ago, it had looked as if there might be a chance of a return to more unsettled conditions later next week, but this now seems much less likely.
At this time of year, high pressure leads to plenty of sun at altitude but also the chance of some low cloud/fog plaguing the lowlands and some Alpine valleys, especially those closest to the foothills. Temperature inversions also mean that it is often warmer at altitude than in the valleys, where frost may remain all day long in shadier spots.
Given the low angle of the sun at this time of year, any snow on north-facing slopes will stick around much more easily than it did a few weeks ago. However, all but the highest south-facing slopes will turn green again over the next few days.
This weekend 11 resorts have been open for skiing in the Alps, all in Switzerland, these being Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Verbier, Glacier 3000, Crans Montana, Engelberg, Davos-Klosters, Laax, Arosa, Andermatt and the Diavolezza glacier (near St Moritz). Of these, Zermatt and Saas-Fee remain the best bets in terms of both extent and variety of open terrain.
Snow conditions on the glaciers remain reasonable but there is generally less snow than average across the Alps for late November. This isn’t a problem for most resorts just yet though, given that they either can’t or don’t plan to open until well into December due to Covid-19.
Val Thorens is one major (mostly) non-glacial resort that had planned to open this weekend, but it wouldn’t have been a particularly memorable opening given the amount of man-made snow needed to supplement its very modest natural cover.
Obergurgl is another (entirely) non-glacial resort that should also have been up and running by now, and could have offered some reasonable skiing, with as much snow (height for height) as just about anywhere in the Alps. Snow cover here remains modest for late November though. Indeed much more snow is needed in all parts of the Alps before we can start looking at anything like a solid early season.
Updated: 4pm Saturday 21 November 2020 - The snow guns are firing…
The weather in the Alps has settled down again, meaning that anyone lucky enough to be skiing this weekend will see plenty of sunshine. It has also turned that bit colder, allowing ski resorts to fire up their snow cannons.
Switzerland is still the only country offering any skiing in the Alps right now. This weekend 11 resorts are open here, these being Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Verbier, Glacier 3000, Crans Montana, Engelberg, Davos-Klosters, Laax, Arosa, Andermatt and the Diavolezza glacier (near St Moritz). Of these, Zermatt and Saas-Fee remain the best bets in terms of both extent and variety of open terrain.
Snow conditions are generally pretty good right now thanks to the new snow that fell earlier the week. The slightly colder weather has also allowed snow-making in some areas. However, temperatures are not necessarily low enough to allow them to operate 24/7.
As for when the next natural snow might fall, there may be bits and pieces here and there later next week but no significant or widespread snow is likely any time soon.