Big Snowfalls in The Alps, The Pyrenees & Beyond
2nd December 2020
Last modified on December 6th, 2020
It’s turning wintry with further snow falling. Some areas could end up with more than 1.5m before the storm passes. The southern Alps is set to do well. And it’s been snowing in the Pyrenees, Scandinavia and Scotland too. UPDATED
We might not be able to ski right now in most of the Alps but it’s good news that the white stuff is beginning to fall.
The latest images come from one of our favourite resorts in the Tirol in Austria, Obergurgl.
And it’s looking tasty elsewhere in the Tirol.
Before looking in further detail at the Alps and the Pyrenees we have some pictures from one of our regular readers in Norway, Scott Hammond.
He is a ski instructor and is clocking up his 30th winter.
“Season number 30 is on! Kvitfjell is open and doing a great job and their absolute best with keeping people at distance. I hope people respect this throughout the winter,” said Scott.
Norway currently has very low cases of Covid-19 (52 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period) and there is no quarantine requirement on arrival back in the UK.
Sadly there is quarantine required arriving in Norway from the UK, but if that changes Norway is on our list of places to visit this winter.
In the Alps the landscape is changing.
Especially in the central and south eastern Alps.
“We are still on course for some truly huge snowfall totals across the south-eastern Alps, where it will continue to snow for much of today and into tomorrow,” said our resident snow expert, Fraser Wilkin from weathertoski.co.uk, on Saturday.
“The very heaviest snow will fall in the Dolomites and the southern Austrian Alps (Cortina, Arabba, Madonna di Campiglio, Nassfeld, Lienz, Sillian) where between 1.5m and 2m of new snow is likely at altitude by the end of the weekend, with even more in places”.
“These sorts of snowfall totals are extreme by any standards and are likely to cause disruption in places,” he added.
And once again Fraser was right as on Saturday night we had news of too much snow.
There was so much snow falling in the Engadine Valley in Switzerland that avalanche danger meant roads had to be closed and the Women’s Super G World Cup race was called off.
“WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche research SLF of Davos has alerted the Upper Engadine to the high danger of avalanches due to the ongoing snow precipitation,” said the organisers on Saturday.
“Due to the high level of danger in the mountain area, St. Moritz ski area has decided to close the access.
“As a result of this decision, tomorrow women’s Super G race in has been cancelled.”
Neighbouring Italy has also seen some of the biggest falls.
It was a bit murky as the new Eiger Express lift opened in Grindelwald, but there was some good snow around.
And it’s looking good further west in Morzine in the French Alps.
And in Val Thorens in Les3Vallees.
But of course, it’s only early December and who knows what the whole season will bring – weather or Covid-wise.
But after a relatively dry and very mild November in the Alps, it’s great to see the cold and snowy conditions we hope for in December.
There was some snow on Wednesday and Thursday, a lull and then it started snowing heavily on Friday and into Saturday.
Meanwhile, there’s some good news to report from Scotland, which might well end up being the best option for skiing this winter for those of us in the UK.
Our good friend Rod Frazer of Where Stags Roar in the Cairngorms National Park, decided the scenes overnight were too good not to share…..
And on Thursday morning he got the skinny skis out for a bit of cross-country fun.
And let’s not forget the Pyrenees.
Some resorts in Spain are hoping to open next week.
One is Baqueira Beret – it’s turned on it snow guns as the temperature falls.
And in Formigal…
Here’s what it’s been looking like in the Alps as the storm began in the middle of last week.
“Yesterday we saw a moderate fall of snow (typically 5-20cm) across some parts of the Alps, mostly in the north-west (e.g. Portes du Soleil, Bernese Oberland, Arlberg),” the alpine snow watcher Fraser Wilkin of Weather To Ski said on Wednesday.
“Most of the Alps will see more snow over the next few days, with extreme snowfall totals expected across some southern regions, especially Carinthia (Austria) and the Dolomites (Italy) on Friday and on Saturday.”
The Carinthia ski resorts in Austria, such as Nassfeld, as well as places like Cortina d’Ampezzo and Arabba in the Italy should get between 1 metre and 1.5 metres at altitude.
The French Alps and much of Switzerland – the only country which is currently open for skiing – will get between 20cm and 50cm.
“All in all, with the rain/snow limit expected to be relatively low and snow cannons also in operation, this is all very good news for the Alps,” Fraser says.
“While there are obviously still considerable restrictions as to where you can ski (currently only in Switzerland), in terms of getting a base going for the season in general, we are certainly now moving in the right direction.”
The International Ski Federation will be hoping the change in the forecast will remove the need for more weather-related cancellations to World Cup competitions, which have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most recently, the lack of snow in November forced the cancellation of the Ski and Snowboard Cross World Cup events due to be held in Montafon, Austria, from 9th to 10th December.
They are being rescheduled for January.
“We were ready, prepared and fully motivated to give the ski and snowboard cross athletes the World Cup opening that they deserved,” the head of the organising committee, Christian Speckle, said.
“Especially in these weird times, we wanted them to have something ‘normal’, but unfortunately, the current weather situation is too difficult and changes our schedule.”