Snow news - Summer 2017
Updated: 11.40am Wednesday 20 September 2017 - So much snow! But will it last?
More than 50cm of new snow has fallen across some eastern parts of the Alps in the last 24 hours. Hintertux has done particularly well from the recent storms, with significant snow down to the 2660m mid-station and a dusting even at valley level.
Three other open glacier ski areas where you would be forgiven for thinking it was mid-winter today are Stubai, Mölltal and Pitztal. Other Alpine glaciers have also seen fresh snow in recent days but, generally speaking, Austria has bagged the most.
But what next?
First things first, it is vital to re-emphasise that what happens now has no bearing whatsoever as to how the main winter season will pan out. Yes, it has been an unusually snowy September at altitude in the Alps. However, this “wintry” spell is coming to an end, with temperatures set to rise dramatically over the coming days.
Indeed it could end up being really quite warm again across the Alps come the end of the month.
Some of the glaciers (especially the eastern ones) have seen quite a lot of snow and so, for a while at least, conditions should be excellent. Don’t expect any low-lying snow to last too long, however, with normal autumnal conditions expected to return soon.
Updated: 10am Monday 18 September 2017 – It keeps on snowing at altitude in the Alps…
Guess what folks? It’s been snowing in the Alps again, and to quite low altitude in places too. This morning, for example, there is around 10cm on the ground in the Portes du Soleil at 1800m.
This has been one of the snowiest Septembers in the Alps for quite some time, but we must reiterate that it does not, unfortunately, have any bearing as to what might happen come the main season.
Indeed, after another significant snowfall tomorrow (this time for the eastern Alps), temperatures will rise later this week, leading to a rapid thaw of any low-lying snow.
For now though it is great news for the glaciers, more and more of which are opening or due to open in the next few weeks.
In Austria you can currently ski on the glaciers at Hinertux, Sölden, Stubai, Pitztal and Mölltal.
In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee.
In Italy there are now two options - Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, but France will have to wait until 30 September 2017 for its first lift-served skiing on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes.
Updated: 9.30am Wednesday 13 September 2017 - More snow for the Alps
Further snow has been falling across some parts of the Alps, especially at altitude in the central, eastern and south-eastern Alps.
While this is great news for the glaciers (especially the eastern ones) it is important to remember that the recent snowfall still has no bearing whatsoever on how the main season will pan out. Low-lying snow simply does not stick around at this time of year.
Right now you can ski on half a dozen glaciers in the Alps.
In Italy, the glacier at Passo Stelvio is looking good again following its unscheduled closure (due to the heatwave) back in August.
In Switzerland you can ski in Zermatt and Saas-Fee.
In Austria you can ski on the glaciers at Hintertux, Sölden and Mölltal. No skiing is possible in France right now, with Tignes set to be the first to fire up its lifts on 30 September 2017.
Further snowfalls are forecast at high elevations across the Alps over the next few days, heaviest again in central and eastern regions.
Updated: 8.45am Monday 11 September 2017 - More snow for the Alps
There was further snow across parts of the Alps this weekend, which is great news for the glaciers after an exceptionally warm summer.
It is the second significant snowfall in the Alps this September, with further (high altitude) snow forecast at times this week.
Snow also fell to below 2000m for a time on Saturday and Sunday, but it is only at the highest altitudes that it is likely to stick around for any length of time.
Right now skiing options in the Alps are limited to half a dozen glaciers, with the most extensive terrain and best snow in Hintertux where 20km of pistes are open on a 45cm base.
Updated: 9.50am Saturday 2 September 2017 - It’s snowing in the Alps!
Yes - that’s right! Heavy snow is currently falling across parts of the Alps, particularly the eastern Alps where 50cm is possible at high altitude by the end of the day.
The snow-line is as low as 1600m in places (including the Austrian Arlberg) but it is above 2500m that we are likely to see significant quantities of snow, which is great news for the Austrian glaciers, many of which (e.g. Sölden, Kitzsteinhorn) are looking to open in a few weeks’ time.
Right now only Hintertux, Saas-Fee and Zermatt/Cervinia are open for summer skiing, with Hintertux expected to do best from the current storm.
As we have previously reported, the Alpine glaciers have been in very poor shape this summer, making the current early snowfall all the more welcome.
That said, it means absolutely nothing in terms of the coming winter and fingers remain crossed that the Alps get off to a better start than in recent years.
Updated: 9am Wednesday 30 August 2017 - Very poor summer skiing season for the Alps…
It has been an exceptionally poor summer ski season in the Alps, with two glaciers (Italy’s Passo Stelvio and Austria’s Mölltal) forced to close completely and others struggling to offer anything like decent snow conditions, especially from mid-July onwards.
The meagre snow conditions are not just due to this summer’s temperatures, which have again been way above average in the Alps, but also due to a poor winter which saw below normal snowfall almost across the board.
The good news is that there is no link between the state of the glaciers in summer and how snow conditions might pan out the following winter. However, it is abundantly clear that summer ski areas have struggled in recent years, and that the glaciers continue to shrink at an alarming rate – as they have for several decades now.
Not that long ago you could ski on well over a dozen Alpine glaciers in high summer – in resorts such as Verbier, La Plagne, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez, all of which have been forced to cease their summer ski operations. This year only Hintertux, Zermatt/Cervinia, Saas-Fee and Les 2 Alpes were on offer by the middle of August.
The last few days have again been exceptionally hot across the Alps but change is afoot as weather fronts introduce cooler and temporarily more unsettled weather to most regions from the north-west mid-week.
There will even be a little snow for some of the glaciers, but not nearly enough yet to be talking about a high altitude base for the early season.
Updated: 12.30pm Wednesday 26 July 2017 - Temporary relief for the Alpine glaciers
Snow has fallen across some higher parts of the Alps over the last few days, leading to a temporary improvement in snow conditions across the various summer ski areas.
Many of the Alpine glaciers have been left in a threadbare state after below average snowfalls last winter, followed by a very hot early summer.
The recent snow is great news for anyone lucky enough to be skiing in the Alps over the next couple of days. However, it will do little to improve the overall picture, with conditions expected to deteriorate again as temperatures rise this week.
Summer skiing in the Alps has come under serious pressure in recent years as resorts struggle to offer decent snow conditions, especially in late July and August. Lots of summer ski areas have closed over the last 20 years or so, including Val Thorens, Verbier, La Plagne and Alpe d’Huez.
Others which used to operate 365 days a year (such as Tignes) have now been forced to shorten their summer seasons and are generally un-skiable by late summer.
Updated: 11.45am Thursday 13 July 2017 - Glacier alert!
Concern is mounting over the state of the glaciers following another hot summer in the Alps.
Just nine days ago (4 July 2017) we suggested that some of Europe’s best known summer ski areas might struggle to last the pace this summer, but even we have been shocked by the rapid deterioration of many of the glaciers since then, not least the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes where snow cover is already looking decidedly threadbare.
Compare the image above with this one taken just 9 days earlier on 4 July 2017:
This follows a period of consistently high temperatures in the Alps which has seen the mercury rise to as high as 38°C in some of the lower valleys (such as those near Grenoble) with further hot weather forecast over the coming weeks.
Not all Alpine glaciers are in as bad a shape as Tignes just yet. Zermatt and Saas-Fee, for instance, are holding up a little better, at least on the upper parts of their glaciers, as are some eastern Alpine summer ski areas such as Hintertux. However, even these areas won’t be immune if the heat continues and it remains to be seen for how long they can offer an acceptable quality of skiing.
Updated: 11.45am Tuesday 4 July 2017 – Another hot summer in the Alps…
Some parts of the Alps saw fresh snow last week but, generally speaking, it has been a very warm late spring and early summer.
For now, most of the skiable glaciers are still in reasonable shape, but there is concern about whether certain summer ski areas can last the pace - especially those scheduled to remain open all summer - should temperatures continue above average throughout July and August.
The weather in the Alps is forecast to be hot over the next few days, with maximum temperatures close to 30°C in many of the lower valleys.
Updated: 3.30pm Friday 2 June 2017 - Summer is in control of the Alps
After a relatively cold and snowy early May, summer has well and truly established itself in the Alps, with temperatures in the lower valleys typically in the high twenties (occasionally nudging 30°C) over the last few days and a good scattering of heat-induced afternoon thunderstorms.
Needless to say, the snow-line has been racing up the mountain but it is still possible to ski on a number of glaciers this June, most of which are in Austria. For a list of all of the resorts which are open this month, see our blog on where to ski in the Alps in June.
Snow conditions are reasonable, given the time of year, with some fresh snow expected at high altitude this weekend and into the first part of next week.
Updated: 10.15am Tuesday 2 May 2017 – Fabulous snow conditions in the few Alpine resorts still open!
The Alpine season is all but finished, despite another big dump over the weekend and yet more snow in the forecast this week. Lift-served skiing options in the Alps are now mostly limited to the glacier resorts.
In France you can ski on both glacial and non-glacial terrain (11 runs total) above Val Claret in Tignes.
In Switzerland there are four options right now: Zermatt, Engelberg, Glacier 3000 (near Les Diablerets) and the mostly non-glacial slopes of the Corvatsch near St Moritz.
In Italy the best option this week is Val Senales, but you can also ski in a very limited capacity on the Presana glacier above Passo Tonale.
However, as usual at this time of year, Austria has the greatest number of options open, including Hintertux, Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun), Mölltal, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Dachstein.
All the above-mentioned resorts have excellent snow conditions thanks to the recent storms, with temperatures set to remain on the cool side this week.