..and in to early May! For Savoie and the Northern French Alps

Great skiing still to be had! But you have to explore to find it

Weather forecasts are difficult enough in the mountains, but in Springtime things are even more unpredictable. In this, our last snow report this season, we’re expecting to see snow, rain, sunshine, cloud….. and everything in between between now and the start of May !

Off-Piste Snow & Weather Report 11 - 19 April
N French Alps in Springtime. All types of conditions, even powder snow. Chris Souillac photo

We recommend getting out off-piste even when conditions don’t look promising. In the last few days we’ve had some of the best skiing of the season, with fresh snowfall really freshening things up. Some lucky areas near the French/Italian border, benefited from a ‘Retour d’Est’, and have been enjoying some fantastic cold powder snow. Henry was clearly having a great time in Tignes a few days ago (see photo above).

The best place to enjoy good off-piste conditions just after a snowfall in April/May is on high north facing slopes, but don’t forget to stay safe by applying our HAT risk reduction methods. There are still a weak layers of angular-grained ‘sugar snow’ up there under the fresher snow.

As we move towards the end of the season and into early May, follow our advice and tips on skiing smooth spring snow. Spring snow is fantastic, but there is a knack to finding it, how to ski it and what not to do – see our blog of 21 March.

Of course, it’s important to emphasise that while skiing for fun, there are also a few things we really need to look out for to be safe at this time of year:

  • Watch out for slides on sunny slopes, especially just after snowfall. Big avalanches can come down after snowfall even within an hour or so of being in the sun. Avalanche activity following a snowstorm this week reminded us of the Combe du Géant tragedy last year, where a father and daughter were killed by an avalanche while skiing next to a closed piste on a sunny day following a large snowfall.
  • Things can start coming down really quickly after a snowfall when slopes start warming up in the hot sun.
  • Same thing for rain. Once it starts raining on top of new snow, that can quickly start off some big avalanches (within as little time as 45 minutes to an hour of the rain).
  • Another point to look out for is when we get nights with little or no refreeze (when temperatures don’t get below freezing point). Especially the first time of the season when temperatures don’t go down below freezing at fairly high altitudes (2600 m or so), it can become really dangerous and avalanche-prone:
    • If night-time temperatures don’t get below freezing at the bottom part of the slope you’re intending to ski, that means that a) the slope may never really have become stable & that b) you could break through the snow when skiing and twist your knee badly. Be vigilant.
    • Be particularly cautious (we suggest thinking about abandoning plans to ski, climb..) when it didn’t refreeze in the mid- section to the top of the slope you’re thinking of going on, especially when this happens for the first time of the season.
    • If it didn’t refreeze even at the top, just don’t go!

Off-piste weather forecast for 11 to 19 April

Weather from NORTHEAST with pressures rising until Saturday with a depression (1007hpa) in Corsica which moves towards Italy. Scandinavian cold air approaches the Alps from Sunday causing a sharp drop in temperatures.

Cloudy along French/Italian border areas with some flakes. The afternoon after 14-15h, snowfall from 1500 meters will occur on these borders (quantities close to 10 to 20cm to 2000 meters). Other areas, a sea of ​​clouds around 1500-2000 meters occupies the valleys with above, clouds of altitude towards 4000-6000 meters (often white day effect). A few sunny spells in the morning to the West of the border. Maximum temperatures +14 to 1000 meters, +4 to 2000 meters and -3 to 3000 meters.
Isotherm 0 ° C: around 1800 meters.
Isotherm -10 ° C: around 3700 meters.
Wind at 2500 m: East at North-East 10 to 30 km / h.
Wind at 4000 m: North-East 30 km / h.

Continuation of clouds on the borders until 02-03h with a little snow at 1500 meters then the weather becomes drier. Elsewhere, always often cloudy to be loaded with some gaps or small clearings on the masses distant from the Italian border. Minimum temperatures +3 to 1000 meters, -2 to 2000 meters and -8 to 3000 meters.

The conditions in the mountains are improving with the clouds that go back to Italy after 08-10h, leaving a rather heavy sky on the Italian border and some thunderstorms to return to the other areas among some clouds around 2000-2500 meters (sea of ​​possible clouds by place or cumulus).
Insulated 0 ° C: around 1800 meters
Insulated -10 ° C: around 3700 meters.
Wind at 2500 m: North-East at North 10 at 20 km / h.
Wind at 4000 m: North-East 20 km / h.

More or less sunny, a little cool in the afternoon especially in the mountains.
The cloudy banks in the morning are clearing. The afternoon becomes more cloudy, by clouds overflowing Jura and Haute Savoie and hanging the summits; they evolve in Cumulus and give some showers especially at the end of the day and the beginning of night.
At the end of the night, other clouds overflow from Piedmont on the SE of French/Italian border areas, with low rainfall.

Snowflakes can drop to 900 m at the beginning of the night; Above 1500 m, we expect less than 10 cm, or very locally 15 cm on French/Italian border areas.

Isotherm 0 ° C: 1600-1700 m during the day, 1500 then 900 m in the evening and at night.
Isotherm -10 ° C down to 2500 m.

Wind at 2000 m (mainly in the west): NE to NW during the day 10-20 km / h, North then NE at night 10-30 km / h.
Wind at 4000 m: NW then West at day 20-30 then 30-40 km / h, West at SW then SE then at night 20 then 40-60 km / h.
At 3000 m, the weak wind turns in the East at the end of the night and generates a little Foehn-Lombarde on some border passes.

The cold air is gradually fading away in front of a small rush of high pressure in the west of the area.
The wind at altitude weakens and turns gradually to the NW.
Sunday, some showers still overflow from Italy in the morning, the thunderstorms widen in the afternoon, a little less cool.
Monday, more widely sunny, softer.
Isotherm 0 ° C rising to 2500 m.

The anticyclonic thrust weakens temporarily and lets a cloudy disturbance come through.
The wind runs from the WSW.
Tuesday, slightly cloudy, cloudy periods.
Wednesday, little sun, scattered precipitation.
Isotherm 0 ° C in small decrease then in low rise.

A small Atlantic cold depression gradually spreads over the country.
The current of SW becomes temporarily moderate, with at least Lombarde Thursday.
Clouds become numerous with precipitation.
The 0 ° C isotherm drops to at least 2100 m, and the snow a little lower.

Tip of the week

Enjoy the rest of the season, everyone. We will be back with these reports from the start of December 2019 for the next season.

Follow our tips on skiing smooth spring snow, but also be aware for potential dangers, especially those connected with warmer temperatures at this time of year.