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Summary of snow conditions 22nd December 2009
Posted: 24 December 2009 12:12 PM  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

Meteo France has issued the following summary of snow conditions for the 22nd of December 2009

Keep an eye on our separate thread discussing conditions here:

Snow is present in all mountain range but cover is poor, especially at low altitude. It approaches average depths only around 1800-2000m but is irregular at higher altitudes. Low temperatures from the 10th of December enabled ski resorts with snow making to cover their runs so on piste conditions are normally okay.

Over the last couple of days there has been a spectacular rise in temperatures. In the Alps from -18°C to -20°C at 2200 meters on the 20th to –2°C on Tuesday morning. The warm weather has been accompanied by clouds, rain and wind which has melted snow at low altitudes. It looks like these weather patterns will continue over the coming days with some brief cold spells with snow at lower altitudes. Snow cover will continue to degrade below 1500 meters. With the disturbed conditions the avalanche risk will change rapidly. Off piste skiers should consult the avalanche bulletins.

Northern Alps
Fairly poor snow cover at low altitude. It only reaches average levels from 2300m altitude in the north of the area. There is some snow at valley floor level in the north and 1000m in the Isere. There is 10-40cm at 1500m but it is only from 1900-2000m that there is sufficient cover for off piste skiing in good conditions. Higher up and cover is very irregulier with many ridges and summits stripped by the recent strong southerly winds. At the same time some sheltered north facing bowls are loaded with snow.

Southern Alps
Snow cover is around average in the north and slightly above average in the south. Recent snow, accompanied by high wind, brought 20-40cm of fresh snow. Snow can be found from 1000-1200 m, sometimes 800m but it is only from 1500m that cover approaches 40-60cm with 70-100cm present at 2500m.

Snow cover is still poor but similar to in an average season. The ranges are white from low altitude. Snow is skiable from 1500-1600 m but on thin cover reaching some 30-60cm at 1800m with 100cm at 2500m. There is little snow in the Canigou range and far east. The snow pack is composed of two large falls at the start and end of November covered by 10-30cm of fresh snow last week.

At 1600m snow cover is around average.. There is 20-50cm of snow. Higher up depths are slightly below average with 50-70cm at 2000m. The surface has been sculpted by the strong winds. Powder can be found on bowls sheltered from the strong westerly winds.

The southerly winds have degraded the snow quality and mountain has been cleaned below 1100m. Summits and ridges have been stripped by the wind.

15cm of fresh on Monday 21st December but warm weather has brought rain to the summits. There is 30-40cm at 1200m altitude but with very irregular cover with 5-20cm on the valley floors.