Today in the Alps...

Updated: 10am Thursday 15 November 2018 - Colder weather still on its way…

 

High pressure is still dominating the weather in the Alps, however it will continue to pull away north-eastwards over the next few days allowing increasingly cold air to move in from Russia. 

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 15 November 2018 Excellent snow conditions on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes right now – 15 November 2018 – Photo: tignes.net

Today it is still sunny and mild in the Alps, at least above any of the low level cloud that is often a nuisance at this time of year. Tomorrow will be broadly similar with plenty of sunshine at altitude. However, there will be some subtle changes in the weather with an increasing breeze bringing a bit more in the way of cloud to the southern Alps, and perhaps even a few light showers in the western Italian Alps later in the day (with a few flakes above 2200m, then lower overnight).

 

On Saturday the colder air will start gaining ground from the east. Most places will be sunny but there will again be some showers in the western Italian Alps with the rain/snow limit falling to 1200m. A few light showers may also fall in the southern French Alps but freezing levels here will be a little higher.

 

It will turn colder still on Sunday and into the early part of next week. Sunday should be mostly dry but Monday and Tuesday could well see some more widespread snow flurries to low levels across the southern and eastern Alps in particular. Watch this space…

 

In the meantime, there is some excellent glacier skiing to be had across the Alps this week, helped by the good weather. Some of the best options include Tignes, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Hintertux, Sölden, Stubai and Kaprun. Best of all, however, remains Cervinia (linked to Zermatt) where on the Italian side alone 16 runs are open and you can comfortably ski down to the mid-station at Plan Maison.

 

One notable opening today is that of entirely non-glacial Obergurgl. There may not be much snow at resort level but on the upper half of the mountain there is enough to allow for 37km of pistes to be open with an impressive top snow depth of 110cm. 

Obergurgl, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 15 November 2018 Skiing gets underway in entirely non-glacial Obergurgl today – 15 November 2018 – Photo: obergurgl.at

Season Progress Report      November 2018                  

With the weather in the Alps set to remain warm for the foreseeable future, should we be worried about how things stand in the run up to the 2018-19 ski season?

Top 10 early season ski resorts in Europe                                            

Snow reports and snow forecasts will return in Autumn 2018

Who got the most snow in the Alps in 2017-18?

The 2017-18 Alpine ski season was one of the snowiest on record, but was it one of the best?

 

Read our full review of the 2017-18 ski season and find out who got the most snow in the Alps

Who got the most snow in North America in 2017-18?

The 2017-18 North American ski season saw a north-south split, with better conditions in Canada than in the USA...

 

Read our full review of the 2017-18 ski season and find out who got the most snow in North America

Updated: 11.45am Wednesday 14 November 2018 - Colder weather incoming, but will it snow?

 

A huge area of high pressure is currently dominating the weather in the Alps - meaning lots of sunshine for most today but also some nuisance value low level cloud and fog. 

Cervinia, Italy – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 14 November 2018 Masses of snow at altitude in Cervinia – 14 November 2018 – Photo: cervinia.it

Over the next few days the area of high pressure will gradually move away eastwards allowing a increasingly chilly easterly airflow to develop. The drop in temperature will be fairly gradual at first but it is likely to become much colder by the middle of next week.

 

Encouraging as this is, the big question is will it snow? The short answer is yes, but not everywhere. The best direction for the weather to be coming in from for widespread snow across the Alps is the north-west, especially if a secondary storm then forms over the Mediterranean which sends snow back north across the southern Alps.

 

An easterly flow, like the one expected across the Alps next week, does not favour widespread heavy snow. However, depending on the exact wind direction, some significant falls are possible, especially in the southern Piedmont (e.g. Sestriere, Prato Nevoso).  

 

Other parts of the Alps may also see some snow but it will be a bit more hit and miss. Whatever the case, it will turn much colder next week which will allow snow-making to begin on an industrial scale, especially later in the week. Stay tuned for further updates…

 

In the meantime, snow conditions on the Alpine glaciers are generally pretty good right now.

 

In France you can only ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes. However, there is probably now enough snow in the Val d’Isère/Tignes area (generally) above 2400m or so for it to offer a selection of non-glacial runs come the official opening of L’Espace Killy on 24 November. The same can’t be said for most other French resorts. Val Thorens, for example, has had to postpone its planned opening (originally scheduled to be this weekend) by at least a week. 

Val d’Isère, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 14 November 2018 Val d’Isère should now have enough snow at altitude to get some non-glacial runs open on 24 November 2018 – Photo: valdisere.co, 14 November 2018

In Switzerland the best skiing remains on the glaciers above Zermatt and Saas-Fee, though it is also possible to ski on a more limited basis in a handful of other areas, including Glacier 3000 and Diavolezza.

 

In Italy, Cervinia currently offers the best snow conditions in the Alps with 16 open runs and skiing down to Plan Maison at 2500m. Elsewhere in the Italian Alps you can ski on a more limited basis in Val Senales, Passo Tonale and non-glacial Sulden-am-Ortler.

 

In Austria all eight glaciers are open, the best of which are at Kaprun, Hintertux, Sölden and Stubai. 

Updated: 9am Tuesday 13 November 2018 - Major cool down likely next week…

 

The weather in the Alps remains very mild. Indeed Val Thorens has just announced that it has had to postpone its planned 17 November opening by a week due to a lack of snow - the persistently high temperatures have meant that they haven’t even been able to get the snow cannons going. 

Val Thorens, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 13 November 2018 Very little snow in Val Thorens, which has postponed its opening to 24 November 2018 - Photo: valthorens.com, 13 November 2018

There is some good news though: we are increasingly confident that the temperature will plummet next week as cold air is drawn in from the east. How much snow there might be is still uncertain - widespread heavy snow still seems unlikely at this stage. However, at the very least, it seems likely that many resorts will be able to operate their snow cannons at long last.

 

The only skiing in France right now is on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes. Most of the snow at resort level has now melted but L’Espace Killy (Val d’Isère/Tignes) did see a fair amount of snow over the last two weeks from the “southerly” storms and should now have something of a base above 2400m or so. However, the vast majority of French resorts do not have any meaningful snow as yet.

 

Cervinia is the stand out resort in Italy – perhaps even in the Alps – with skiing now possible to Plan Maison at 2500m where settled snow depths are an impressive 120cm. There is even some snow in resort, but not enough to warrant opening anything all the way down as yet.

Cervinia, Italy – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 13 November 2018 Cervinia is probably the best bet in the Alps right now – 13 November 2018 – Photo: cervinia.it

Elsewhere in Italy you can ski on the glaciers in Val Senales and Passo Tonale, and on a handful of runs at non-glacial Sulden-am-Ortler. While the Italian Alps have generally seen the most snow so far this autumn, it has only fallen at high altitude, so has been meaningless for resorts where most or all of the terrain is below 2300m or so.

 

In Switzerland, Zermatt and Saas-Fee are the stand-out resorts, having received huge amounts of snow from the ‘southerly storms’ early last week, with snow piling in over the Italian border. Zermatt is already claiming 300cm of settled snow up top and has 11 pistes open.

 

The only other options in Switzerland right now are at Glacier 3000 near Les Diablerets and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz, the latter of which has the best snow. So far this autumn, it has been the resorts closest to the Italian border that have done best from any snowfall, however, (as with Italy) it is only those with plenty of skiing above 2300m or so have truly benefited. The northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Villars, Grindelwald) currently have very little snow.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 13 November 2018 Lots of snow up top in Saas-Fee – 13 November 2018 – Photo: saas-fee.ch

In Austria all eight glaciers are open but the most extensive terrain can be found in Hintertux, Stubai, Sölden and Kaprun. Glaciers aside, Austria is the most snowless of the four main Alpine countries right now. Indeed there is virtually no snow below 2500m on the northern side of the Alps (e.g. St Anton).

 

Back to the weather forecast and the Alps will have to endure another mild week, although there will be plenty of sunshine, at least above any low level valley fog. Towards the weekend we will start to see the first signs of a significant cool down from the east. Then next week it seems likely that a much colder easterly airflow will engulf the Alps.

 

This could bring some snow for some, especially to Austria and the Dolomites, but the detail is still a bit sketchy. At the very least it will allow resorts to switch on their snow cannons which is a positive step forward.

 

Stay tuned for further details…

Updated: 9.30am Monday 12 November 2018 - Still mild but hints of a cool down next week…

 

The weather in the Alps remains very mild, however, unlike last week when there were further showers (and some high altitude snow) across many southern and some western parts of the Alps, this week will be mostly dry with plenty of sunshine.

Cervinia, Italy – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 12 November 2018 Plenty of snow in Cervinia, but this is one of the exceptions in the Alps and not the rule – 12 November 2018 – Photo: cervinia.it

So where does this leave us in terms of current snow conditions in the Alps?

 

Well, anyone following our updates over the last couple of weeks will know that a huge amount of snow has fallen at high altitude across some central and southern parts of the Alps, especially close to the Swiss-Italian border. Resorts that have benefited most from these storms include Cervinia (185cm upper base depth), Zermatt (300cm upper base depth) and Saas-Fee (250cm upper base depth, all of which have now got a secure base on the upper half of their mountains.

 

As to the rest of the Alps, skiing generally remains confined to the glaciers.

 

In Italy, apart from Cervinia, skiing is available on the glaciers of Val Senales and Passo Tonale, although non-glacial Sulden-am-Ortler is also operating a handful of runs. While the Italian Alps have seen the most snow so far this autumn, it has only fallen at high altitude so has been meaningless for resorts where most or all of the terrain is below 2300m or so.

 

In Switzerland, aside from Zermatt and Saas-Fee the only other option right now is the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz. So far this autumn, is has been the resorts closest to the Italian border that have done best from any snowfall, however, only those with plenty of skiing above 2300m or so have truly benefited. The northern Swiss Alps (e.g. Villars, Grindelwald) currently have very little snow.

 

In Austria all eight glaciers are open but the most extensive terrain can be found in Hintertux, Stubai, Sölden and Kaprun. Glaciers aside, Austria is the most snowless of the four main Alpine countries right now. Indeed, there is virtually no snow below 2500m on the northern side of the Alps (e.g. St Anton). 

Zell-am-See, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 12 November 2018 Still very green on the northern side of the Alps. This is Zell-am-See with the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun in the background – 12 November 2018 – Photo: zellamsee-kaprun.at

In France skiing is still confined to the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes. Although most of the snow at resort level has now melted, L’Espace Killy (Val d’Isère/Tignes) did see a fair amount of snow from the “southerly” storms over the last two weeks and should now have something of a base above 2400m or so. However, the vast majority of French resorts do not have any meaningful snow as yet

Val d’Isère, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 12 November 2018 Good snow cover at altitude in Val d’Isère but there is still very little lower down – 12 November 2018 – Photo: valdisere.com

Back to the weather forecast and it is going to be another mild week. However, this time around all regions should also see plenty of sunshine. There is a hint of some colder air trying to move in from the north or east next week but no sign (as yet) of any significant new snow.

 

However, as some clear nights are coming up, the ground will start to cool down meaning that resorts can start to think about their snow-making operations, although these are unlikely to kick off on any sort of scale until next week at the earliest. 

Updated: 10am Friday 9 November 2018 – Continuing very mild in the Alps

 

The weather in the Alps remains stuck in a rut with a mild southerly airstream that will continue to influence proceedings over the weekend and into next week. 

Heiligenblut, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 9 November 2018 Some snow at altitude in the central Austrian Alps but lower down the thaw continues. This is Heiligenblut – 9 November 2018 – Photo: foto-webcam.eu

This southerly airflow has brought a lot of snow at high altitude to both the southern side of the Alps and areas close to the main Alpine ridge (e.g. Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Cervinia, Monte Rosa, St Moritz, Passo Tonale). In Saas-Fee, for example, well over 3m of new snow has fallen on the glacier in the last 10 days or so.

 

However, while the rain/snow level was relatively low for a time early last week, it has generally been closer to 2300-2500m in recent days meaning that any new snow has been increasingly confined to the tops of the affected ski areas. Furthermore, the northern half of the Alps has been affected by the warm Foehn wind which has sent temperatures soaring into the low 20°C’s in the valleys and eaten all but the highest level snow.

 

Not a huge amount will change over the weekend. Weather fronts will try and move in from the west with some precipitation for the western and especially south-western Alps. However, it will remain very mild with any new snow mostly above 2200-2500m. The northern and eastern Alps will remain dry with sunny spells.

 

Looking further ahead, it will remain on the warm side all next week and possibly beyond that too. It is also likely to brighten up in those areas close to the main Alpine ridge and on the southern side of the Alps (e.g. Cervinia, Saas-Fee) which have been plagued by cloud, rain and snow in recent days. 

Updated: 11.20am Monday 5 November 2018 - A mild week for the Alps…

 

The Alps are under the influence of a very mild southerly airflow that will remain in place for the rest of the week. This means further precipitation for the southern side of the Alps but generally not as intense as we saw last week, and with a relatively high rain/snow limit. 

Zermatt, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 5 November 2018 Still lots of snow at altitude in Zermatt, but it’s green again in the village – 5 November 2018 – Photo: zermatt.ch

A lot has been made of the recent snowfall in the press over the last few days but the real picture in the Alps is not quite as rosy right now as some have painted.

 

While there is a lot of snow at high altitude in some central, southern and western parts of the Alps (e.g. Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Cervinia), the weather has been mild – very mild across the northern half of the Alps where the Foehn has also been blowing – and the percentage of Alpine ski resorts that have a meaningful base is still very small indeed. 

Damüls, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 5 November 2018 No snow at all below 2000m for most of the northern Alps including here in Damüls in the Austrian Vorarlberg – 5 November 2018 – Photo: damuels.at

As previously mentioned, it is also set to stay very mild this week. There will be further snow for some high parts of the southern and south-western Alps, especially close to the Franco-Swiss and Franco-Italian borders, but only above 2300m or so, and most of the Alps will stay dry.

 

So where are the best places to ski this week?

 

In Austria all of the glaciers are open (with the exception of Dachstein) and in good condition, though the weather is still a bit mixed, although they are not expecting much snow. There will be quite a lot of cloud, especially in the south (e.g. Mölltal) with the best of any sun in the north (e.g. Kitzsteinhorn). The most extensive options right now are Hintertux, Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn and Sölden.

 

In Switzerland the best options are, in theory at least, the glaciers above Zermatt and Saas-Fee where there is tons of snow. However, it is likely to be cloudy for most of the week with further wind and snow, so these areas may be closed for long periods of time.

 

Italy has the same problem, with loads of snow above Cervinia but lots of bad weather on the cards this week which will severely limit the action. You may have more luck further east in Val Senales but the weather is also going to be less than perfect with lots of cloud and a few snow showers.

 

In France the only skiing option right now remains Tignes, but once again bad weather will be a factor. If there is a break in the weather there is now plenty of snow up on the glacier to take advantage of, even if most of it is now melted at resort level. 

Tignes, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 5 November 2018 Plenty of snow up top in Tignes but it is melting rapidly at resort level – 5 November 2018 – Photo: tignes.net

Updated: 10am Thursday 1 November 2018 - More snow for the south but don’t get too excited yet…

 

As forecast, a second storm has brought more heavy snow to some southern parts of the Alps, with the heaviest falls once again close to the Swiss-Italian border. 

Corvatsch, St Moritz, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 1 November 2018 Huge snowfalls on the Corvatsch above St Moritz – 1 November 2018 – Photo: corvatsch.ch

Above 2600m, some parts of the southern Swiss and northern Italian Alps (roughly in the triangle between Saas-Fee, Obergoms and Locarno) have seen over 3m of new snow since Saturday. This area is renowned for getting pasted when storms move up from the south, but has very few ski resorts.

 

However, areas that are close by and will still benefit include Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Cervinia and the Monte Rosa region. All of these have a huge amount of snow at high altitude and will probably now have a lasting base above 2500m or so. 

Zermatt, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 1 November 2018 Big snowfalls in the Zermatt area – 1 November 2018 – Photo: zermatt.ch

These areas are of course not the only ones to have seen snow this week. Many other parts of the Alps have also seen at least some temporary snow cover.

 

In the northern Alps, however, the warm Foehn wind has been blowing, sending the snowline scurrying back up the mountain in areas such as the Bernese Oberland (Wengen, Mürren) and the Arlberg (Lech, St Anton). Indeed the northern Austrian Alps now have almost no meaningful snow left below about 2300m.

Lech, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 1 November 2018 Warm Foehn winds have eaten most of the snow in the northern Alps. This is Lech – 1 November 2018 – Photo: lech.com

The snow has generally been heavier and will stick around a bit longer in the more central and southern Alpine resorts, especially the higher ones such as Andermatt, St Moritz, Livigno and Passo Tonale. However, even here you the lower half of the ski area will turn green this weekend or at some point next week as the weather is set to turn drier and warmer again. Also, once this “southerly storm” dies away over the next couple of days it is unlikely there will be a significant return to winter for some time to come.

 

So, in conclusion, don’t get too excited yet! Although some high resorts (especially those in the central and southern Alps with skiing above 2500m) now have a lasting base, and glacier areas are also in great shape, for the majority of areas it is still all to play for.

 

But as we often stress, this is not something to be overly concerned about at this time of year. Many a great season has not got going until well into December...

Updated: 6.15pm Tuesday 30 October 2018 - The big storm eases

 

The big storm that has been affecting the Alps since Saturday is now starting to die down. However, another is on its way for tomorrow, with the heaviest precipitation again forecast for the southern Alps.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 30 October 2018 Lots of new snow in Saas-Fee this morning – 30 October 2018 – Photo: facebook.com/saasfee

Over the last 72 hours there has been some very wild weather across the Alps, especially yesterday which saw just about everything, including torrential rain, blizzards, hurricane force winds and even thunder and lightning.

 

Temperatures have also been all over the place in the last few days, generally lowest in the north-western Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil) and highest in the south-east (e.g. Dolomites) but with huge variations from valley to valley, day to day and even hour to hour.

 

The high border areas between Switzerland and Italy have seen the most snow from this storm, with 1-2m of snow having fallen quite widely above 2500m, and very locally as much as 3m. This means a lot of snow (at altitude) for the likes of Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Cervinia, Monte Rosa, Madesimo, St Moritz, Livigno and Passo Stelvio – to name just a few. 

Zermatt, Switzerland – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 30 October 2018 New snow at Findeln just above Zermatt – 30 October 2018 – Photo: zermatt.ch

Most other parts of the Alps have also seen snow at high altitude but in more modest quantities. Lower down, due to the highly volatile temperatures (not to mention rain and warm Foehn winds in places) any accumulations of snow are likely to be temporary, especially below 2000m or so.

 

In conclusion, it’s a great start for the glaciers and for areas with plenty of skiing above 2500m, many of which could see a lasting base. For everyone else it is still all to play for, but that is exactly what you would expect at this time of year, so it is still way too early to be getting excited about snow conditions in general…

Updated: 12.50pm Sunday 28 October 2018 – The storm in the Alps continues

 

The Alps remain at the centre of the battleground between cold, relatively dry air coming down from the north and warm, very moist air pushing up from the Mediterranean. 

Passo Stelvio, Italy – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 28 October 2018 Massive snowfalls on the Passo Stelvio in the central Italian Alps – 28 October 2018 – Photo: stelvio.net

We have already seen a lot of precipitation this weekend across the Alps, albeit with a wildly varying rain/snow limit which has been as low as 600m (very locally) under the most intense precipitation.

 

More generally the limit has sat between 1000m and 1500m across the north-western half of the Alps, and between 1500m and 2500m across the south-eastern half. 

Ischgl, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 28 October 2018 New snow in Ischgl – 28 October 2018 – Photo: ischgl.at

The heaviest snowfalls have been at high altitude in the southern French, Italian and southern Swiss Alps where some places have already seen between 50cm and 100cm above 2500m. But we haven’t seen the heaviest of it yet, with the precipitation expected to intensify across the southern Alps tonight and tomorrow.

Avoriaz, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 28 October 2018 Snow in Avoriaz – 28 October 2018 – Photo: avoriaz.com

Indeed storm totals by Tuesday could be in excess of 2m in some of the high border areas between Switzerland and Italy, especially from Zermatt eastwards. Resorts which will benefit from these extreme snowfall totals include Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Cervinia and Monte Rosa. However, we should stress that the big totals will only be at high altitude, and not at or close to resort level.

 

We will report more fully on the consequences of this storm early next week… 

Updated: 11am Saturday 27 October 2018 - Snow, rain, wind!

 

As expected, bad weather has arrived in the Alps today bringing a mixture of rain, snow and high winds.

Avoriaz, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 27 October 2018 Heavy snow in Avoriaz this morning – 27 October 2018 – Photo: avoriaz.com

This is an extremely complex situation, with the battleground between cold arctic air from the north and warm Mediterranean air from the south situated right over the Alps. This will create huge variations in temperature and therefore rain/snow limits.

 

This morning, for example, the snow-line has already lowered to around 1300m across the north-western Alps, from the Portes du Soleil all the way to the Arlberg. By contrast, it is raining to around 2500m across the south-eastern half of the Alps including the Dolomites, for example.

Lech, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 27 October 2018 Snow to resort level in Lech this morning – 27 October 2018 – Photo: lech.com

Generally speaking, the heaviest precipitation will be in the southern and western Alps over the next few days, that’s to say the French Alps (especially close to the Italian border), the Italian Alps and the southern Swiss Alps.

 

Resorts which will see huge snowfall totals at altitude include Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Andermatt, Cervinia and Monte Rosa - all of which could see 1-2 metres of new snow above 2500m (with more in places) between now and Tuesday.

 

Many other parts of the Alps will also see snow, though with a highly variable rain/snow limit. This will generally be lowest in the north and west (e.g. Portes du Soleil) and much higher the further you are south-east.

 

We will bring you further updates tomorrow… 

Updated: 10.30am Thursday 25 October 2018 - Severe weather on its way to the Alps

 

Earlier in the week we talked about a big change in the weather in the Alps this weekend. This is still very much on the cards, with a lot of rain and snow forecast from Saturday onwards.

WXcharts chart showing accumulated snowfall forecast between 24 and 28 October 2018 – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 25 October 2018 Total accumulated snowfall forecast by Sunday 28 October 2018 – Image: wxcharts.eu

There has already been some snow for the Austrian glaciers, with 30cm+ reported on the Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun, for example. However, the main action is set to begin on Saturday when cold polar air arrives from the north and battles it out with warm Mediterranean air pushing up from the south. This battleground will be centred right over the Alps, meaning that there will be huge differences in temperature (and therefore rain/snow limits) from one area to the next.

 

The very highest precipitation totals look like being close to (and to the south of) the main Alpine ridge, in particular close to the Swiss-Italian border regions from about Cervinia/Monte Rosa eastwards through the Simplon and Gotthard regions, across towards St Moritz and Livigno, the Ortler and the Dolomites. These regions could see between 1m and 2m of new snow between Saturday and Monday at high altitude, but also lots of rain lower down.

 

Where the rain/snow limit will be situated is the big question, as it will fluctuate enormously at different times and in different places. Expect some surprises!

One thing we can be sure of though is that the warmer air will hang on longest in the south-eastern Alps (e.g. Dolomites), while the colder air will arrive quickest in the north and west (e.g. northern French Alps).

 

The weather also looks like it will remain very unsettled into the first part of next week, with further heavy rain and snow likely in many areas, probably favouring the southern and western Alps. Expect some really eye watering snowfall totals in places!

 

Stay tuned for further updates over the weekend…

Updated: 2.30pm Monday 22 October 2018 - Big snowfalls on the way?

 

So far it’s been a mild and relatively dry autumn in the Alps, but this is all about to change as a cold and potentially very snowy blast of arctic air is forecast for this coming weekend.

GFS pressure chart for Saturday 27 October 2018 – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 22 October 2018 GFS pressure chart for Saturday 27 October 2018 suggesting widespread snowfall across the Alps – Image: meteociel.fr

At this stage is impossible to be sure who will see the heaviest snow. Some weather models have the storm track moving across the centre of the Alps, meaning widespread dumps. Others have it a bit more to the west which would favour the western and southern Alps. Either way, we can now be fairly sure that we will see the first really significant snowfall of the season in the Alps, even settling to low levels in places too. We will bring you further updates as the week progresses - watch this space…

 

In the meantime, skiing in the Alps is still restricted to a handful of glaciers with the most extensive terrain (as is often the case at this time of year) in Austria’s Hintertux, with 28km of pistes in operation. Elsewhere in Austria you can ski on the glaciers at Kaprun, Stubai, Sölden, Pitztal, Kaunertal and Mölltal. You can also ski on a limited basis in non-glacial Kitzbühel thanks to their use of the “snow farming” technique, whereby old snow is preserved over the summer and re-used the following autumn.

 

In Italy you can ski on the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio. In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee. In France, you can only ski on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes. Les 2 Alpes has had to cancel its usual half-term opening (for the second year running) due to the poor conditions on its glacier. 

Updated: 10.30am Tuesday 16 October 2018 - Mixed fortunes for the Alpine glacier

 

It’s been a mild autumn so far in the Alps. While there has been a little high altitude snow at times over the last few weeks, it hasn’t been especially significant.

Les 2 Alpes, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 16 October 2018 Precious little snow on the glacier at Les 2 Alpes – 16 October 2018 – Photo: les2alpes.com

After a torrid summer this is proving problematic in places, especially in France where Les 2 Alpes has announced (for the second year running) that there is insufficient snow on its glacier for it to open this half-term – which it had been able to without too much difficulty until recently.

 

Tignes is also suffering, with the opening dates for its Autumn ski season postponed indefinitely due to the poor conditions on its Grande Motte glacier.

Conditions are a bit better further east, though still not great, with Austria’s Hintertux continuing to lead the way with 21km of pistes currently available. Elsewhere in Austria you can ski on a more limited basis on the glaciers at Stubai, Kaprun, Pitztal, Kaunertal, Mölltal and Sölden.

 

You can also ski on a couple of non-glacial runs in Kitzbühel thanks to “snow farming” (as opposed to natural snowfall or the use of snow cannons) which Kitzbühel has been doing successfully for several years. Snow farming is the process of preserving some of the previous season’s snow over the summer by packing it densely then insulating it with wood chippings! This massively slows the rate of melting and the snow is then “spread” back over selected pistes in the autumn or early winter.

 

In Switzerland, you can ski on the glaciers at Saas-Fee and Zermatt, in Italy at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio. However, there is still no glacier skiing possible in France.

 

No significant new snow is expected in the Alps this week, with mild and sunny weather prevailing. 

Updated: 8.45am Monday 8 October 2018 - A warm week ahead

 

Some parts of the Alps have seen a dusting of snow at high altitude over the weekend, but nothing significant. The week ahead will be on the warm side with a strong Foehn wind affecting the northern half of the Alps at times.

Tignes, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 8 October 2018 The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is still not open – 8 October 2018 – Photo: tignes.net

Most places will be dry this week, but some southern and south-western parts of the Alps will see a few showers (and a little high altitude snow but again nothing significant).

Wind permitting, you will able to ski on the following glaciers this week:

  • in Italy - Val Senales and Passo Stelvio;
  • in Switzerland - Zermatt and Saas-Fee; and
  • in Austria - Hintertux, Stubai, Sölden, Pitztal, Kaunertal and Mölltal.

The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes does look a bit better than it did in September, but currently remains closed, meaning that there are not yet any skiing options in France. 

Updated: 10.15am Tuesday 2 October 2018 - A little taste of winter

 

We have fresh snow in the Alps! It’s nothing to get too excited about yet – we are only just into October after all – but it has improved conditions on the glaciers, for a while at least. 

Hintertux, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 2 October 2018 New snow at the mid-station in Hintertux – 2 October 2018 – Photo: facebook.com/hintertux.glacier

The improvement in conditions is down to a blast of cold and unstable polar air which has dumped 10-20cm of new snow (and 30cm+ in some favoured spots) at altitude across many northern parts of the Alps. Some snow also got through to the southern Alps, mostly the south-eastern Alps (e.g. Dolomites) though generally in more modest quantities.

 

From a skiing point of view, the areas that have done best from this storm are the Austrian glaciers, led by Hintertux where 10 lifts are currently serving 18km of pistes. Elsewhere in Austria you can also ski on the glaciers at Pitztal and Kaunertal, though on a more limited basis.

 

In Switzerland you can ski in Saas-Fee and Zermatt, neither of which saw more than a dusting from the recent storm. In Italy, the glaciers at Val Senales and Passo Stelvio saw a few centimetres of new snow, and have a handful of runs open. 

Grande Motte glacier, Tignes, France – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 2 October 2018 Fresh snow on the Grand Motte glacier, which remains closed for now – 2 October 2018 – Photo: tignes.net

There is still no skiing in France right now as, despite some snow having fallen on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes it still hasn’t opened (it had been scheduled to open last Saturday).

 

The forecast for the Alps over the next few days is for the sun to dominate once more. Conditions on the open glaciers (especially the eastern ones) should remain pretty good, but any low-lying snow will quickly melt.

Updated: 9.30am Monday 1 October 2018 - Snow in the Alps!

 

It’s October, and what better time to kick off “Today in the Alps” - not least because there is some snow in the forecast.

Ischgl, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 1 October 2018 Fresh snow on the slopes above Ischgl this morning – 1 October 2018 – Photo: ischgl.com

Today’s bad weather comes courtesy of a cold front which is dragging unstable air across the Alps from the north. The heaviest precipitation will therefore fall across the northern Alps, especially in the north-eastern Alps (i.e. Austria). The rain/snow limit will fall steadily to reach as low as 1200m later in the day with between 10cm and 20cm of snow expected across the Austrian glaciers (such as Hintertux and Pitztal). The more western and southern glaciers (such as Tignes, Zermatt and Saas-Fee) will also see a little bit of snow but not quite as much as further north and east.

 

While new snow is welcome on the glaciers after another torrid summer, it won’t make much difference as to how the rest of the autumn pans out. High pressure will quickly regain control of the Alps this week with lots of dry and sunny weather in the forecast – at least once the last of the showers die away from the eastern Alps early tomorrow.

 

Once the current bad weather clears, the best skiing conditions in the Alps this week will be in Austria, especially on the Hintertux glacier. You can also ski in a much more limited capacity on the glaciers at Kaunertal and Pitztal.

 

In Switzerland you can ski on the glaciers in Saas-Fee and Zermatt, and in Italy at Passo Stelvio and Val Senales. However, France is not yet offering any skiing as the planned opening of the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes has been postponed due to poor snow.