High avalanche risk in French Alps

Les Illettes, Belledonne Range

Last week saw spring skiing conditions in the French mountains, at least where there was snow. This has changed since Friday with three bands of snow crossing the mountains. So far temperatures have been coolest and the falls deepest in the Haute-Savoie with falls of 30cm at 1700m and 50cm at 2400m. These have been accompanied by strong winds from the south-west then west.

In the Savoie there was around 40cm and in the Isere 20-30cm with some bigger falls locally such as at Vaujany (up to 50cm). The avalanche risk is now at High (4/5) over many ranges with the biggest risk on northern aspects above 1800 meters where the new snow has fallen on unstable layers (sugar snow) or crusts. The wind has formed some soft and hard slabs.

There has also been 10-20cm in Corsica and the eastern and central Pyrenees as well as falls in other French mountain ranges. The risk in these areas is Considerable for Monday (3/5).

A further 50cm are expected over the course of Sunday night and Monday accompanied by winds from the west then north-west. The zero isotherm will also drop to around 1000 meters. Many natural avalanches are expected tomorrow but skiers and snowboarders should take particular care on Tuesday which is expected to be both sunny and cold.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 25 February, 2007 at 08:56 PM

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