Ski and snowboarding conditions improved substantially both on and off the piste in the Northern French Alps above 1500 meters during the week but snow cover below 2000 meters still remains poor. Conditions in the Pyrenees and Southern Alps are poor and there is little skiing in the Massif Central.

The fresh snow, 40cm at 1500m, 80cm at 3000m was accompanied by very strong winds from the south-west to west which blew snow onto north-east to south-east sector slopes but the initial rain to 2200 meters helped consolidate the snowpack below this level.

From Tuesday the avalanche risk was high above 2000 meters with a series of accidents including four deaths in three separate incidents at les Arcs, Chamonix and Souliers in the Hautes-Alps. The risk remains considerable at altitude with slabs resting on a fragile base.

further information

Piste Patrollers hit by avalanche at Tignes
Ski tourers found dead in Hautes-Alps Avalanche
Series of avalanche incidents in the Alps
Off piste snowboarder killed at les Arcs

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 07 January, 2007 at 12:54 AM

The Savoie and Haute-Savoie have light rain forecast to 2700 m tomorrow as the warm south-west winds continue. The main affects will be some wet snow slides, probably lower down on south facing grassy slopes and it should help to solidify the base after it undergoes a freeze-thaw cycle which will be good for stability.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 08 January, 2007  at 09:10 PM

There has not been a whole lot of good news to report in the last couple of weeks. Last weekend the sun was out and there was good spring skiing to be had above 2000m on south facing slopes… but you had to climb first, something we normally associate with April. Meteo France says that snow cover in the Northern Alps is 40% less than the long term average although things return to near normal above 2500m. The cause - hot weather and wind blowing from the south-west to south-east.

We saw a thick ice covering e-n-w sector slopes yesterday. It was about 1-2cm thick and probably formed when we had rain to 2500-2700m last week which turned to ice when it hit the snow surface. There have been a few deaths in the mountains due to people losing their footing and this is possibly the cause. 3 Spanish climbers died in Gavarnie. The French Rescue Services have said there has also been a marked increase in injuries on piste due to the difficult conditions.

It has been raining since late last night. It is still very warm in the Central French Alps: 3.5C at 1800m with a light wind from the south-east. This probably means it is snowing above 2000m. There will probably be quite a lot of wet snow avalanches during today as the snowpack gets overloaded and watch out for new slabs on north facing slopes.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 18 January, 2007  at 10:59 AM
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