Today in the Alps - November 2017
Updated: 9.45am Tuesday 7 November 2017 - The Alpine landscape is transformed…
The weather in the Alps has eased somewhat though there are still some flurries in places today, notably in the Dolomites as well as the southern Piedmont (e.g. Prato Nevoso).
The Alpine landscape has been transformed by the snow over the last two or three days, and for some higher resorts there is already enough snow for a good early base.
A word of caution though - for most resorts we are not there yet, and further significant snowfalls are still needed before we can call for anything like a bumper early season.
The heaviest snow from the recent storm fell in the Austrian Alps close to the Italian border and south of Innsbruck (e.g. Obergurgl, Stubai, Hintertux), as well as the far south-western Italian Alps (e.g. Prato Nevoso).
Indeed Prato Nevoso and the Stubai glacier both claim around 100cm of new snow, while the Hintertux glacier claims around 80cm.
Other areas that have done very well with 40-80cm of new snow at altitude include the Dolomites, Livigno, and parts of the Engadin in south-eastern Switzerland. More generally, the Alps saw between 10cm and 40cm of new snow above 2000m.
Glaciers aside, Obergurgl is looking an excellent early bet right now. It opens on 16 November and has enough snow to open the majority of its area. Ischgl (opening 23 November) is also on track for a solid start to the season.
What’s more, it will stay cool this week with further flurries at times and some more significant snow for the northern half of the Alps (e.g. Kitzbühel, St Anton, Engelberg, Mürren, Avoriaz) over the weekend.
More details tomorrow...
Updated: 10.15am Monday 6 November 2017 - The big storm delivers
As expected, lots of snow fell across the Alps yesterday and it is still snowing in places today. The great thing about this storm is that just about everywhere saw some significant snow, at least at altitude. What’s more there is more in the forecast over the next few days.
The biggest snowfalls have been in the central and eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Dolomites, Passo Tonale, Livigno) and the Austrian Alps south of Innsbruck (e.g. Hintertux, Nassfeld). These areas have seen between 50cm and 100cm of new snow above 2300m.
Most other parts of the Alps have seen between 15cm and 50cm of new snow at altitude, with modest accumulations to below 1000m in places, especially across the northern half of the Alps where the cold air was first to bite.
Today there are still plenty of mostly light snow showers across the Alps, but with some heavier falls in the south-western Italian Alps (e.g. Sestriere, Prato Nevoso).
This week will remain cool and changeable with a little snow here and there and more significant snow again possible at the weekend, this time more concentrated in the northern Alps. Watch this space…
Updated: 10.45am Sunday 5 November 2017 - The big storm arrives
The much anticipated “big storm” has arrived in the Alps, though it will take a while for the milder air to be completely displaced and the snow to reach lower levels, especially in the south-eastern Alps.
Right now (10.45am) it is raining or snowing across a wide swathe of the Alps, though some eastern areas (e.g. large parts of Austria) are still dry. The rain/snow limit is around 1400m in the north-western Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil) but still over 2000m in the south-eastern Alps (e.g. Dolomites). This limit will continue to drop today to reach under 1000m in most parts by the early hours of Monday.
As has been predicted for some time, the greatest snowfalls will be at altitude in the central southern and south-eastern Alps where between 50 and 80cm (locally over 100cm) of snow is possible above 2000m in the likes of St Moritz, Madesimo, Livigno, Passo Tonale, Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Nassfeld and Obergurgl, to name just a few.
Most other parts of the Alps will also benefit from a useful fall of snow by the end of Monday, typically 10-50cm above 2000m, with some modest accumulations to below 1000m here and there.
We will have a full round up of the snow tomorrow morning…
Updated: 11.50am Saturday 4 November 2017 - Significant snow for many parts of the Alps over the next 48 hours
The weather in the Alps is changing - dramatically. Today, there are already a few showers across the western Alps (with a little snow above 2300m) but it won’t be until tonight that things really kick off with the arrival of a very active cold front from the west.
Cold polar maritime air from this front will interact with the warm Mediterranean sea to form a strong Genoan Low, which will intensify and throw moisture-laden air back north towards the southern side of the Alps where it will snow intensively on Sunday.
The Southern Alps may see the heaviest snow, but just about all areas of the Alps will get in on the action to some degree. The rain/snow limit will start well above 2000m on Saturday, lowering to below 1000m on Sunday, first in the north-western Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil, Bernese Oberland), last (on Sunday night or Monday) in the south-eastern Alps (e.g. the Dolomites).
Further snow is expected at times on Monday, to low levels, especially in Austria as well as the far south-western Italian Alps (e.g. Prato Nevoso).
Generally speaking, the biggest snowfall totals over the next 48 hours are expected to be in south-eastern Switzerland (e.g. St Moritz), the central and eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Livigno, Passo Tonale, Dolomites) and the southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Obergurgl, Nassfeld). Above 2000m these resorts are forecast to get well in excess of 50cm of new snow, with 80-120cm in some places.
Most other parts of the Alps can expect somewhere between 10cm and 40cm, with 50cm+ locally above 2000m. However, some snow will also temporarily stick to below 1000m, especially in the north-western Alps (e.g. Morzine, Wengen).
Looking a bit further ahead, the weather pattern is a relatively cool and unsettled one with further snow at times both next week and the week after. It’s too early to be calling for a bumper early season just yet, but things are certainly starting to move in the right direction. Watch this space…
Right now skiing is still mostly confined to the glaciers, the greatest choice being in Austria (e.g. Hintertux, Stubai). However, there are also one or two non-glacial options (e.g. Sulden in the Südtirol) with more expected to open over the next couple of weeks. The first proper big name non-glacial opening is expected to be Obergurgl on 16 November.
Updated: 10.30am Friday 3 November - All eyes on Sunday!
The first really significant snow of the autumn is due in the Alps on Sunday. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have a bumper start to the season - it’s simply too early for that - but for some high resorts it will at least be enough for a lasting base.
So where will the snow fall and how much will there be?
All parts of the Alps will see some snow, at least at altitude. However, the most snow will be in the central and eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Livigno, Bormio, Passo Tonale, Madonna di Campiglio, Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Cortina), the central, eastern and south-eastern Swiss Alps (e.g. Andermatt, St Moritz, Klosters) and the southern and south-western Austrian Alps (e.g. Ischgl, Obergurgl, Nassfeld).
By Monday these areas should have in excess of 50cm of new snow above 2000m, with some areas seeing 100cm or more, especially close the Italian border regions.
Other parts of the Alps will also see snow but more generally in the 10-40cm range (with up to 50cm locally) above 2000m. The rain/snow limit will start quite high but drop generally to 1000m or lower by Sunday night. After a brief respite, further snow is expected in many places by Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
Right now skiing is still mostly confined to the glaciers, the greatest choice of which is in Austria (e.g. Hintertux, Stubai). There are, however, also one or two non-glacial openings (e.g. Sulden in the Südtirol) with more expected over the next couple of weeks. The first proper big name non-glacial opening is expected to be Obergurgl on 16 November.
Updated: 11.20am Thursday 2 November 2017 - Big snow for some on Sunday
It’s on! The models have upgraded further over the last day or two and many parts of the Alps will see significant snow on Sunday and Monday, especially in the south.
This change in the weather will start with fronts moving in from the north-west late on Saturday. However, the big player will be the formation of a “Genoan Low” on Sunday, caused by cold polar maritime flowing over the warm Mediterranean sea. This will send moisture-laden air back up towards the southern Alps where it will snow intensely later in the weekend.
The regions likely to see the most snow are the central and eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Livigno, Passo Tonale) and the Dolomites (e.g. Selva, Arabba). We will also see big snowfalls in the eastern and south-eastern Swiss Alps (e.g. St Moritz, Arosa) and the south-western Austrian Alps (e.g. Ischgl, Obergurgl). These areas could see in excess of 50cm of new snow above 2000m by Monday, with close to 1 metre in one or two favoured spots.
Other parts of the Alps will also see snow but not quite in the same quantities. The least snow is expected to fall in the French Alps, the far western Swiss Alps (e.g. Villars), the far northern Austrian Alps (e.g. Kitzbühel) and the western Italian Alps (e.g. Milky Way). However, even here, 5-30cm is still possible at altitude. What’s more there is likely to be further snowfall at times next week so all in all it’s an encouraging situation as we approach winter.
We will bring you further details on the weekend storm tomorrow…
Updated: 9.50am Wednesday 1 November 2017 - Next significant snow on Sunday
At this time of year, all most skiers are concerned about is when it is going to snow next? The answer is this weekend, especially on Sunday.
The snow comes courtesy of some Atlantic weather fronts moving in from the west/north-west. The situation will be complicated by an area of low pressure that will form in or around the Gulf of Genoa drawing up warm moist air from the Mediterranean.
This will result in snow for many parts of the Alps, most significant close to the main Alpine Ridge in south-eastern Switzerland, south-western Austria and adjoining border areas in Italy. Resorts that could do very well from this storm (30-50cm above 2000m) include Andermatt, St Moritz, Ischgl, Obergurgl and Sulden.
So what does this mean for the Alps?
For the glaciers it will be another useful top-up, with the greatest falls in the east (e.g. Hintertux, Stubai) and the south (e.g. Val Senales, Passo Stelvio). It will also be significant for some non-glacial resorts such as Obergurgl and Ischgl which already have a thin base at altitude. The extra snow means that their bases should now last until opening time later in November. For the majority of resorts, however, it is still too early to be getting excited.
We will bring you more details on how things develop as the week goes on...