Poor start to Winter 2006

Meteo France has issued the following statement on the snow cover as at the end of November 2006.

Snow cover is currently very poor in both the French Alps and Pyrénées. In the Alps there is just a few cm of snow from 2000 meters altitude. At 2400 meters in the Northern Alps snow cover varies between 10 to 25 cm and 0 to 15cm in the Southern Alps. At 3000 meters there is rarely more than 15 to 30cm of snow. Snow cover in the Pyrénées is better. Starting from 1800m by 2400 meters there is 25 to 30cm of snow in the west and center of the massif, 0 to 20cm in the east.

Apart from the Western and Central Pyrenees where the deficit is less marked these figures are 2 to 3 times less than average. This situation is not rare. At the monitoring site at the col de Porte in the Chartreuse (1320m) there have been 11 beginnings of December since 1960 with no snow cover. The lack of snow is a combination of warm temperatures and lack of significant precipitation.

At Villard-de-Lans (1050 m - Vercors) the temperatures during the autumn were 3°C above average, a record since measures were first taken in 1959. Precipitation was lacking in both October and November. Months when snow normally falls at altitude. In the alps the deficit varies between 40 to 60% depending on the range. In the Pyrenees the deficit was not significant.

Records show that snow cover in mid-mountain areas, where most resorts have the bottom of their runs has decreased by 50% since 1960 and there are two months less snow cover during the winter season.

Posted by davidof on Tuesday, 05 December, 2006 at 10:20 AM

It snowed over much of Sunday night and Monday in the Northern alps but temperatures are now warm again, zero isotherm about 2500 meters and much of the recent snow, which fell to 1800 meters, will melt today.

The problem we have suffered a lot from is a low over Spain and a high to the east of France, this sucks warm air up from the south whereas what we need are north-atlantic depressions bringing cold, moisture laiden air from the north.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 05 December, 2006  at 10:26 AM

I’m not totally sure about the 2 month shorter winter either. Take a look at the graphs here:


and here


Although you can select years where there is a two month difference the average between say 1960-1970 and the last ten years looks less marked, maybe 20 days on average, and that is including the very poor 1990s winters. The moving average reflects this with a dip in the mid-90s.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 05 December, 2006  at 11:14 AM
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