After a weekend with very high temperatures for this time of the year, colder air will move in on Tuesday with fresh snow. Slowly clearing up for the rest of the week to become sunny and mild again by Thursday.

Higher altitudes accessing 2300 m and above continue to be the best places to ski. Natural snow depths above 2000 m or so remain good for the time of year, while at altitudes below 1600 m they’re pretty non-existent. It’s now nearing the end of the season for most resorts of the N French Alps.

Snow conditions are currently very spring-like, dare we say, even ‘summer-like’. This will all change with Tuesday’s drop in temperatures and fresh snowfall. They will probably be back again by next weekend, as the sunshine resets in.

For now, the early morning snow is often very hard and crusted. It then rapidly warms up and softens – becoming heavy on the sunniest slopes by afternoon (even late morning sometimes). With the much higher than usual temperatures that we’re currently experiencing, the snow seems to be changing quicker than it normally does at this time of year. It’s definitely time to start working with slope exposures to enjoy smooth spring skiing, beginning with the E facing ones, moving to the more S facing ones, then W round to N facing, following the direction of the rising sun. See our blog Skiing the Smooth for top tips on this.

Spring snow conditions coming into place. Photo by Henry Schniewind

Avalanche Bulletin

With temperatures way above average for the time of season, Météo France put out a special alert about the danger of potentially very large wet snow avalanches occurring this weekend 6th/7th April.

It is true that, of all avalanche accidents (i.e. avalanches where skiers are involved), only a tiny percentage are due to natural wet avalanches. The vast majority of avalanche accidents involve cold, dry slab avalanches. They’re almost always triggered by the victim, or someone in their group, on N’ish facing slopes (in the Northern Hemisphere) in the colder winter months.

HOWEVER, the current situation is clearly a time to be acutely aware of wet snow avalanche danger. Luckily, wet snow avalanche danger is predictable (which is why skiers are not usually involved). Off-piste skiers and tourers really do need to be very careful of wet snow avalanches at the moment, especially the first day there’s not a good refreeze up to much higher altitudes than usual – which is the case right now.

See our previous blog on wet snow avalanches for more info.

The avalanche bulletin also mentions a layer of sand in the snowpack, blown in from the Sahara. Sand does contribute to forming a weak layer in the snowpack. With another significant episode of this coming over the next few days, the effect of sand on the snowpack this week (and in the future) remains to be seen. 

Current avalanche risk across most of the N French Alps is around a 2/3 out of 5, with the level increasing as the day warms up and the snow melts and gets heavier.

See Météo France avalanche danger level & bulletins for N. French Alps clicking on your forecast area.

 

Weather forecast : Mon 8th to Fri 12th April thanks to Météo Alpes 

Current above average temperatures will suddenly plummet on Tuesday, as a new storm comes through. Snowfall is expected, particularly above 2200 m. By Thursday it should become sunny again with temperatures again above average for the time of season (but hopefully not as extreme as last weekend).

MON 8th:  High cloud and Saharan dust in the air will filter out some of the sunshine, making it feel a little less summery than it was over the weekend. Temperatures remain way above normal for the time of season (as they have been for the last few days). 0° C at 3500 m at the warmest time of day. Moderate S wind.

TUES 9th: Stormy. A radical change in the weather with temperatures plummeting and showers (snow/rain limit starting at around 2300 m, but quickly dropping to 1300 m or so). 0°C at 2700 m, dropping down to 1500 m. Areas above 2200 m could receive 15 to 30 cm of fresh snow, but just small quantites are expected at lower altitudes. Moderate S wind turning light NW.

WED 10th: Variable weather with bright sunny spells and some cumulus cloud still hanging around the higher summits. The Haute-Maurienne area (Val Cenis, Bonneval, possibly also affecting Val d’Isère) may still see a few snowflakes coming down at very high altitude.

THURS 11th & FRI 12th: Becoming very sunny again with temperatures above normal for the time of season.

NEXT FEW DAYS: Remaining sunny.

 

6 day weather forecast for Les Menuires by Snow-Forecast.com

Tip of the Week

Check out our article ‘Spring skiing tips, Skiing the Smooth’ to see how the current unseasonably high temperatures will affect the snowpack and how to make the most of skiing these conditions.

And here’s a video on how to make the most of spring snow, by skiing the smooth…..

Safety is Freedom!