Off-Piste Snow and Weather Report 14-20 Feb 2019


For Savoie and Northern French Alps

Wall to wall sunshine for at least the next week, and great skiing conditions!

It’s beginning to feel almost spring-like with milder temperatures and sunny skies. A high pressure weather system is in place, and looks likely to remain for at least a week. No fresh snowfall is expected. We recommend you don’t skimp on the suncream!

Snow val disere
Great snow depths in Val d’Isere

Snow coverage is excellent, and only total powder hounds need to fret about lack of fresh snowfall on the forecast. There is some excellent off-piste skiing to be found, although cold powder conditions are now really only at high altitude, particularly on the colder North facing slopes. Touring skis and skins are now our friends again in helping us to find any untracked snow.

Despite the persistent weak layer in the snowpack, this is currently less of an issue with no fresh snow due for a while. It will only really present as a major problem again once we receive the next amount of significant snowfall. For now the snowpack is becoming more settled due to the warmer temperatures (melting by day and refreezing/solidifying overnight).

Over the next few days, avalanche danger ratings will likely go down to a 2 out of 5, possibly even to a 1 in the mornings. They’ll probably go up in the afternoons because of risk of natural slides due to warmer temperatures. See our descriptions of what all the avalanche danger ratings mean.

Off-Piste Snow & Weather Report 14-21 Feb 2019
Henry having fun with his group. Feb 2019. Adrian Felton photo

There are some areas of windslab around, particularly on North’ish facing slopes above 2000 m, which could be triggered by a skier passing by. However, the main risk to the off-piste skier over the next few days could well be of falling and sliding accidents (what Henry calls the ‘whipper factor’). This is already becoming an issue in exposed areas where a lot of surface snow has been blown off by the wind. With no fresh snow on the forecast, and warmer temperatures, things could become very smooth and slick, with a very real risk of sliding, particularly on big steep slopes.

Control your speed, keep your concentration, and make sure your ski bindings are tight enough so that your skis don’t come off and slide a long way.

Closed runs

It is almost one year since a father and daughter were tragically killed in an avalanche on the Combe de Geant in Val d’Isere where they entered an area that was a closed run and were caught by an avalanche that released on the steep south facing slopes above them.

On Tuesday 12th February 2019, the run was closed again for exactly the same reasons and in very similar conditions. Yet many people ignored the signs and proceeded onto the slope. Please do not do this. When they close a run it is usually due to avalanche danger. There is no clearer clue than a closed sign. Notice it and follow the instruction.

Off-piste weather forecast for 14 to 21 Feb:

Did we mention it will be sunny?

Anticyclonic conditions are permanently in place all over the country
FRIDAY 15
The wind remains weak and the morning frosts give way to a pleasant warmth In the mountain and high valleys, superbly sunny weather. The wind is weak from South (10 to 20 km / h). The temperatures become very mild for the season with maximum of 12 to 14 degrees to 1000 m, 5 to 8 degrees to 2000 m and 2 degrees to 3000 m.

SATURDAY 16
Conditions remain excellent with lots of sun in a sky almost without a cloud. The wind is weak from south to east. The small morning frosts quickly give way to spring sweetness with maximum temperatures of 12 to 14 degrees up to 1000 m and 5 to 8 degrees around 2000 m (isothermal 0 degree close to 3000 m).

SUNDAY 17
In the mountains and on our low valleys, the beautiful weather continues with sun and perfectly blue sky (rare cloudy banks). The wind is weak from South (gusts located near Italy). Temperatures remain abnormally high, evolving from 0/2 to 13/15 degrees in plain, from 0 / -2 to 12/13 degrees towards 1000 m and from 0 / -2 to 5/8 degrees around 2000 m (isothermal 0 degree between 2700 and 3000 m).

MONDAY 18 and TUESDAY 19
Despite a slight weakness, the anticyclone resists and continues to provide dry and sunny weather even if some cloudy banks sometimes roam the sky. The wind remains weak and rather oriented to the South. After the morning frosts, the warmth is present in mountain.

WEDNESDAY 20 and THURSDAY 21
The pressures are reinforced again, for sunny days despite a few cloudy periods, especially Wednesday and the north of our region. Stationary temperatures and always above the averages, passing from 0 / -3 to 13 degrees in plain like towards 1000 m. Persistence of a small south wind.

FRIDAY 22 and SATURDAY 23
Sun everywhere and maximum temperatures too mild for the season.

If you are not sure – it will be sunny all week! And not too warm to spoil the snow, but very pleasant. The snow should remain excellent.

Tip of the week´╗┐

BTW. The on piste conditions are outstanding. We cannot remember it being better than this.

With no fresh snow forecast, windblown slopes and milder temperatures ahead, some off piste slopes are going to get very slick. Avoid going for a big slide by managing your speed and staying in control.

Sliding accidents can be very dangerous, and can occur both on and off piste. Particularly on steep slopes of hard windblown snow, it’s easy to lose control of your edges and go for a long slide. You can pick up frightening amounts of speed and distance, possibly crashing into rocks and other obstacles on the way.