These are questions people have been asking us in the last few days. It is November 15th and the weather has been unseasonably warm so far. The ground has not had much chance to freeze up and there has been very little snow yet. Are we in for a rocky start to the season in December?
We have also just heard that Val d’Isere have delayed the season opening date from 26th November to 3rd December.
So what can we expect? These images from the Val d’Isere webcam on Tuesday 15th November give us a status report.
There is a thin scratchy covering of snow above 2200m. And it seems to be holding up at higher altitudes. It has occasionally been cold enough for the resort to make some artifical snow. Which you can see in the snow piles on the Front de Neige.
I also have reflected on my experiences of previous seasons. My anecdotal (not scientific observation is that during seasons where we have experienced good early snow in November this can be followed by a disappointing December. The November snow is followed by a snow drought in December or even worse mild temperatures. Whereas quite a few seasons where it has been green in November, then the snow has started at the beginning of December and been plentiful and enjoyable to ski. So as they say past performance is not prediction for the future. The lack of snow now is not that significant.
I have also noticed in previous seasons that it does not usually get cold until after 15th November. So now is the time to expect a change.
So what do the weather forecasts say? Here is the MeteoBlue forecast for Val d’isere issued on Tuesday 15th November
This shows a very uncertain and unstable picture. They change the prediction every day! But it indicates that the weather will start to get colder during this week and that some snow is expected over the next 14 days.
If you also look at WePowder. click here. They are predicting 30 to 50cm in the next 6 days and over 80cm in the next 14 days. But reassuringly they also suggest the temperatures will drop.
I have studied the barometric chart forecasts and they seem to show that this snow will come up from weather systems in the south. This favours resorts on the Italian Border both in France and Italy. So Val d’Isere, La Rosiere, La Thuile, Cormayeur, Chamonix, Cervinia. Hovever the forecasters show weather and snow covering the alps further north as well.
Autumn training programme. Off piste Awareness and Transceiver Training
So time to get your season preparation and training in! We still have places available for off piste awareness talks and transceiver training this November and December. Henry is in Manchester on Wednesday and Thursday. Then at Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday and Sunday and off to Glasgow and Tamworth. Transceiver training is in Manchester this weekend.
Everyone who attends the training sessions will get a copy of the new Accident Reduction Guide and Safety Rescue cards.
Henry will also be discussing what to look out for in the early season snowpack and why it is particularly hazardous at the start of the season.
We are planning to produce weekly snow reports this season. Not just the weather and snow but in particular to report if the snow pack is looking stable or if a weak layer is developing. Weak layers tend to follow when there is snow early snow followed by a long cold dry spell. We will see.
As always we will also be warning about ealry season instability in the weeks before skier compaction has stablised the major off piste routes. But these comments will come once the lifts open and the actual conditions are apparent.