Milder cloudy days ahead, with light snowfall
Off-piste snow report: 1 – 7 March for Savoie & Northern French Alps
We’re continuing to find some excellent off-piste conditions. With recent ‘arctic-like’ temperatures, there has been some wonderfully light powder snow to be found. With much milder temperatures forecast over the next few days, we’ll be aiming towards the higher, colder north facing slopes to find the best conditions. However, we’ll need to look out as these are the same slopes where accumulations of fresh snow and windslab will be forming. See below.
It looks as if we should be receiving some very small top-ups of fresh snow over the next few days, which will provide a nice cushion to ski on first runs. The snow just beneath this top coating may well be wind-affected, i.e. hardened or thickly compressed. Snow on warmer slopes may well be crusted first thing as it melts/humidifies by day and refreezes by night. Mild temperatures over the next few days will certainly lead to the snow becoming a lot more humidified and heavier to ski on all but the highest altitudes.
Strong SW winds are forecast at high altitude, accompanied by gusts of Foehn. This means that, although actual amounts of fresh snow will probably be quite small, we could see some quite large accumulations being blown by the wind, particularly on high NE to NW to W facing leeward slopes. Windslab will also be forming here. All this will be landing on top of a potential weak layer of unconsolidated, faceted ‘sugar snow’ that’s been forming at the top of the snowpack due to the recent very low temperatures.
As off-piste skiers, we need to be cautious about triggering windslab avalanches on these high N’ish facing slopes where the coldest, lightest snow can be found.
We could see some natural slides and avalanches occurring over the next few days, depending on how much fresh snow falls. They could be avalanches of powder snow, or heavier humidified snow due to milder temperatures and rain. There are still some glide cracks around too, which could release. Our advice is not to hang around under glide cracks but to pass under them swiftly while keeping an eye on them.
More specific info on risks to look out for is shown in the daily avalanche bulletin, We’ll also be keeping you up to date through our HAT blog and Facebook page. You can see what the avalanche danger ratings mean on henrysavalanchetalk.com/hat-advice/danger-rating.
Detailed weather forecast for 1 – 7 March
Thursday 1st: Mainly cloudy with pockets of sunshine. Above normal temperatures for the time of season: 0° C at 2300 m (day and night). A few snowflakes floating around (probably less than 5 cm fresh snowfall) in the morning. Particularly near the French/Italian border in the Haute Maurienne (e.g. Bonneval) and down to Briançon (e.g. Serre Chevalier). Elsewhere it will become brighter as the day goes on. Light SW wind with some gusts of Foehn and Lombard. SW to SE to E wind at 2500 m, 20 to 40 km/hr. SW wind at 4000 m, 20 to 70 km/hr.
Friday 2nd: Cloud thickening as the day goes on. Flat light conditions for skiers. Light snow showers in the foothills and the Belledonne mountains (possibly 15-25 cm snow here). Maybe small amounts of snow to other areas of Savoie too (less than 10 cm). Light SW wind at high altitude in the morning, turning NW in the afternoon, with strong gusts near high mountain ridges and passes. O° C at 1300 m during the day, but up at 2300 m overnight (so overnight refreeze only above this altitude).
Saturday 3rd: Cloudy. Some light snow/rainfall in the morning, continuing into the evening. Less than 10 cm expected in the Haute Maurienne (Bonneval). Possibly up to 20 cm elsewhere. 0° C at between 1400 to 2000 m during the day, and similar overnight. SW to W wind at 4000 m, 50 – 60 km/hr.
Sunday 4th & Monday 5th: Sunday: Temperatures above normal for the time of season. Strong SW wind, with probably gusts of Foehn and Lombard. Cloudy with some bright spells. Possible light rain or snow. Monday: Stormy weather coming up from the Mediterranean. This could bring some snow to the S Alps and the more S areas of Savoie.
Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th: Becoming much colder again. Winds strengthening and turning W. 0° C at 1300 m, -10° C at 2800 m.
Be very aware when skiing on high, cold, steep N’ish facing slopes where the best quality snow will be found this week. It’s also where most of the wind slab are, and will be, forming on top of a layer of unconsolidated facets or ‘sugar snow’.
As snow and weather conditions evolve, keep an eye on our HAT Facebook updates for info on latest snow stability.