So far, this spring’s proved to be a very wintry season in the N French Alps! The locals are nicknaming this week ‘Janvril’, a cross between the wintry weather we’d expect in January with what we’re currently receiving in April.
Off-piste snow depths and skiing conditions are now extremely good above 2000 m, with 30 cm or so fresh snowfall received above 2200 m in storms since last Tuesday.
Off-piste snow depths for the Hte Tarentaise area of Savoie from Meteo France 15/04/2023
Sunny mornings and occasional afternoon snow flurries are predicted for the week ahead. So there will be a real mixture of off-piste conditions, with cold ‘winter’ powder above 2000 m from any fresh snow showers. As the days warm up, this will quickly humidify and become heavier, especially at lower altitudes.
It should become milder and sunnier from next weekend. Hopefully those smooth snow conditions associated with ‘spring’ will really arrive then, which will be great for ski tourers although most resorts will be closed by then. See our Tips section below for more on this.
The current avalanche danger is a “considerable” 3 out of 5 on the colder N’ish facing slopes above 2000 m virtually throughout the N French Alps, and a “moderate’ 2 out of 5 on the lower slopes.
I’m very aware of the tragic avalanche accidents which happened last week in the N French Alps, near the Italian border in a danger rating of 2. I will be doing a write-up on these in the next few weeks.
Last week was a stormy week with fresh snowfall accompanied by high N to W wind, causing some large accumulations of snow at high altitude.
There’s also still that persistent weak layer(s) of unconsolidated ‘sugary’ snow has developed on the colder N facing slopes. There is a chance that skiers on these sort of slopes could trigger a slab avalanche.
Weather forecast 17th to 21st April onwards
Sunny mornings in the mountains, with clouds building later bringing light snow showers above 1700 m or at the end of the days. From next weekend (22nd/23rd), it will turn warm and sunny…… perfect weather for spring ski touring !
MONDAY 17th April: A mainly sunny morning in the mountains but clouding over in the afternoon. Possible light snow showers above 1700 m at the end of the day (mainly in the N of Savoie). Light NE wind
TUESDAY 18th April: Another sunny morning in the mountains, clouding over in the afternoon with possible snow showers above 1700 m, particularly near the French/Italian border, with even the occasional clap of thunder.
WEDNESDAY 19th April: Yet another sunny morning in the mountains and clouding in again in the afternoon with possible snow flurries above 1800 m.
THURSDAY 20th & FRIDAY 21st: Remaining the same pattern of weather with sunshine in the mountains in the morning, but cumulous clouds building up in the afternoons with a snowflakes falling above 1600 m.
SATURDAY 22nd April onwards: Dry, sunny and warmer…… this is when the spring snow conditions will really start to appear!
Tip of the Week
Back by popular request, read our republished blog ‘Spring Skiing Tips – Ski the Smooth’, showing you how to make the most of spring snow skiing.
With the snow changing very quickly, you need to get your timings right to enjoy it to the maximum. Spring snow transformation happens very quickly after snowfalls at this time of year.
Aside from a night that’s not cool enough, the only thing that gets in the way of great spring skiing is the nasty ruts that skiers leave behind in the snow because they either spring snow slopes too soon, before the melt-freeze layer has formed, or because they ski the slopes too late, when they’re too soft and mushy.
Have a great summer, everyone.
This is our last snow report of the season, but we’ll be publishing more blogs and updates over the summer. Thank you for tuning in!
“Safety is freedom”