French Mountain Weather Forecasting Endangered

Meteo France, the French weather forecasting services, had proposed closing a number of local weather forecasting stations around the nation. This cost cutting measure would leave only 3 stations in the entire Rhone-Alpes region. A region where the mountains make their own weather and accurate localized predictions can mean the difference between life and death.

According to the Dauphine Libere, Meteo France is set to reduce its staff by 1000 employees from the current levels of 3500. The plan is to leave only three regional weather centers in the Haute Savoie area – possibly based in Grenoble, Lyon and Dijon. Both Chamonix and Bourg St Maurice are threatened with closure.

Forecasters at local weather stations have gone on strike in protest, they say “What will happen when the PGHM of Chamonix has to call the weather station in Lyon to ask when they will be able to take off to rescue mountaineers in trouble on the Grand Jorasses ?”

According to the Chamonix employees, the new more powerful modelling technology promised by Meteo France to allow a regional center to make local weather predictions are not yet in place, and in any case no one has of yet tested the reliability. How will local weather be predicted while waiting for this they ask ? Forecasters blame the State for putting money ahead of safety.

If you disagree with this move, you can send your comments to the France Meteo website at this link:

Based on reporting in the Dauphine Libere : Les Centres Locaux de Meteo France Remis en Question

Posted by on Thursday, 16 October, 2008 at 01:02 AM

Interesting. There is no doubt that the local Chamonix forecast is much much more accurate than the departmental forecasts from MF. I wonder if this will affect the avalanche forecasting, MF don’t seem that committed to this service.

I think there are grounds for some re-organisation - for example the defense and agriculture departments have their own weather service. In the domain of avalanche forecasting you have Meteo France, the Centre des Etudes de Neige (CEN) and the ANENA. Maybe a specialized avalanche research and forecasting service like the Swiss have in Davos would be a good idea?

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 16 October, 2008  at 10:23 AM

No! I’ve sent them a comment.

I live about 40km from Chamonix and find that when their weather forecast is coupled with the results are superb.

Posted by endlessride on  Thursday, 16 October, 2008  at 01:10 PM

That is really a shame, because models cannot compete with a good, experienced forecaster.

There is another site with good information, specially at high altitudes, but it needs some work to interpret:

Posted by mountain weather on  Monday, 20 October, 2008  at 02:18 PM

If you are in the Jura this website gives good local predictions.

We’re going to get some snow on Tuesday/Wednesday

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 20 October, 2008  at 02:32 PM

French MP Martial Saddier who represents Bonneville in the Haute-Savoie has defended the Meteo France office in Chamonix, particuarly with respect to Avalanche forecasting. He has received an assurance from the director of Meteo France that the center’s future is assured for at least the next three years.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 14 December, 2008  at 11:54 AM
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