Off-Piste Snow and Weather 4 – 12 April 2019


For Savoie and the Northern French Alps

Briefly back to winter, then here there and everywhere!

Spring is all about mixed weather, often cloudy and showery, with some sunshine thrown in too. That’s exactly what the week ahead will bring. Following a snowstorm on Wednesday/Thursday, we’ll be seeing a couple of sunny days, and plenty of blustery April showers too. We recommend always getting out there, and seeing what you can find – you may be pleasantly surprised!

Off-Piste Snow & Weather Forecast 4th to 12th April
Eking out the spring snow skiing. Wayne Watson photo

After 3 weeks of little or no fresh snow, off-piste conditions earlier this week had become mixed, with very hard icy snow for the first hour or so skiing. We often found ourselves using ‘couteaux’ (ski crampons) to give us more grip and confidence on those first icy traverses of the day to (hopefully) finding better ‘spring’ snow, as in Wayne’s photo.

We’re now back to winter for a couple of days. Fresh snowfall is great for off-piste skiing, opening up more options on where we can go, and there could be more next week. The storm between Wednesday and Thursday, brought anything from 5 to 50 cm of snow, accompanied by strong southerly-ish wind. How much snow fell varied a lot depending on where you were, e.g. the foothills near Chambéry received about 50 cm of fresh snow, but only 5-10 cm in the Haute Tarentaise (e.g. Val d’Isere).

Any areas that received (or will receive next week) significant snowfall of more than 20 cm will have direct action avalanche issues, both during and in the 24 to 36 hours after the snowfall. We could see some very large natural snow slides in this period, which could also be triggered by skiers passing by.

In terms of underlying instability (weak layers in the snowpack), this will be an issue in shaded places (e.g. high north facing slopes) and perhaps other areas. This is usual after a long period of clear days and nights, as we’ve had for the last 10 days or so.

Off-piste weather forecast for 4 to 12 April

Tonight
The sky clears at the beginning of the night, then veils fine high clouds a little dense at the end of the night.

Lowest temperatures -5 ° C to 1000 m, -9 ° C to 2000 m, -15 ° C to 3000 m.

FRIDAY 5
Widely sunny, warmer in the afternoon. Some passages of very high clouds a little dense. after 17h, a sea of ​​clouds forms in Piedmontese below 2500-3000 m, and begins to overflow at the end of the day in Haute Maurienne and SE of Haute Tarentaise.

Friday Night
The sky is gradually becoming cloudy and very dense clouds.
locally some snow flakes (1-2 cm) especially on the border of Haute Maurienne and Eastern Maurienne; then they diminish at the end of the night.

0 ° C rising to 2500 m during the day, then down to 2300 m;
Isotherm -10 ° C: 4300 then 3900 m.
Wind at 2500 m: North to NE then SW to SE in day 5-10 then 5-50 km / h, South to East then SE to East at night 5-40 km / h.
Wind at 4000 m: WNW at SW then SW at day 10-20 then 40-50 km / h, SW then South at night 40-60 km / h.

SATURDAY 6
Partially sunny, slightly warmer in the afternoon (17 ° C to 1000 m, 8 ° C to 2000 m).
The weak clouds dissipate partially in the morning, then resume at midday and increase a little in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, some cloud cover, hanging the high mountains, crosses the West of Savoy and then parked on the summits, giving small ripples scattered in the late afternoon and evening.

Some snowflakes above 1900 m at the end of the day, before going down again, locally until 1300 m at the end of the night on the Prealps; above 2100 m, less than 15 cm is expected.

0 ° C: 2300 then 2100 m during the day then 1700 m at the end of the night.
Wind at 2500 m: SE at East during the day 10-50 km / h, SE at NE at night 5-20 km / h.
Wind at 3500 m: SSE at South during the day 40-80 then 20-40 km / h, SE at night 20-40 km / h.
Foehn and Lombarde blow even harder in the morning, then weaken in the afternoon, and persist at night.
At 1500-2000 m on the Prealps, the wind remains more or less weak, trend SE to SW to West during the day, then NE at the end of the night.

SUNDAY 7
Partly sunny, a little less mild in the afternoon.
The cloud cover and its showers move away in Dauphine in the morning, leaving cloudy residues especially below 2000-2500 m, which evolve into Cumulus. In the afternoon, these Cumulus become larger and give a few showers especially on the West of Savoy.

At night, they spread out in the sea of ​​clouds which gradually falls below 1500 m at the end of the night, and the showers are gradually becoming scarce and then disappear.

The snowflakes above 1700 m on the Prealps; higher, we wait less than 15 cm on the West of Savoy.

0 ° C rising to 2000 m during the day, 2500 m at night.
Wind at 3500 m: SE then ENE day 30-50 then 20-40 km / h, East then NE at night 30-40 then 10 km / h.


MONDAY 8 and TUESDAY 9
The cold Atlantic air extends over the country. The wind at altitude takes a SW trend.
Monday, sunnier; the cloudy residues in the morning, evolve in Cumulus on the massifs; Cloudy degradation in the night, with some showers.
Tuesday, partly sunny; the showers in the morning, can be stormy in the afternoon with gusts of wind.
Temperatures a little softer in the afternoon.
Isotherm 0 ° C is low again
It is snowing above 1500 m.

WEDNESDAY 10 and THURSDAY 11
The cold air softens a little on the South of the country Thursday.
The wind at altitude has a western tendency.
Wednesday, clearings, and frequent showers sometimes stormy.
Thursday, clearings, showers become more scattered.
The temperatures become a little less mild in the afternoon.
The snow can fall temporarily below 1400 m.

FRIDAY 12 and SATURDAY 13
The warming continues in altitude, in a weak current of WSW which brings us clouds and temporary rains, with a little sun.
Temperatures warmer in the afternoon.
The snow can fall temporarily below 1400 m.

Tip of the week

With a lot of unpredictability around the weather this week, the best tip is to get out there into the off-piste, no matter how gloomy it looks. You may be pleasantly surprised!