(Revelstoke in BC, Canada last week – not in the Alps we know but hopefully something like what to expect!)
A huge snow storm looks set to hit the Alps this weekend bringing to a rapid end the warm dry November which had left resorts and tour operators feeling nervous as start dates for winter 15-16 draw ever closer.
In most cases the snowfall is due to begin on Friday and reach its peak on Saturday and Sunday. Temperature are also due to plummet, in some cases to double digits below freezing allowing resorts to fire up their snowmaking systems – always marketed as a safe guard if natural snow fails to arrive, but actually not much use if it’s not cold enough for them to work, as has been the case for much of this month.
Social media speculation has seen some claim that snowfall of up to 2m is possible, but the biggest official report we’ve seen at InTheSnow so far is for 157cm (5 feet, five inches) over 48 hours to fall on Tignes, currently the only ski resort open in France. 120cm/4 feet of that is due to fall on Sunday alone!
For most other ski areas, including resorts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland, the forecasts are currently for between 30cm and 90cm (1-3 feet). Among the official forecasts are 60cm for Zermatt and Cervinia and 90cm for the 4 Valleys. Forecasts for the Western Alps see the biggest numbers, for Eastern Switzerland and Austria they are more like 30cm.
September and October had been frequently snowy, at altitude, in the Alps, with great conditions on the dozen or so glaciers open in the autumn. But the snow did not continue down to lower elevations and snow storms ground to a halt at the end of October.
Val Thorens decided not to open this weekend because of the snow forecast . They said if it arrives as expected it would be too late to prep the slopes in time, would make access difficult and would spoil non snow-sports activities they’d lined up. They’ll open the following weekend instead.
Snow is also forecast for Scotland and Scandinavia.
Across the Atlantic it has been snowing almost constantly for three weeks in western North America leading most ski areas to open early.
Revelstoke in BC, Canada (pictured above last week) has had 3 metres / 10 feet of snow so far but is still not planning to open for another 10 days.