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Worldwide Mountain & Snow Sports Discussion 2017/18


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Julian's (J10) Alps Blog
Follow Julian's blogs through the season for his weekly update on the conditions and upcoming forecast for the Alps. 

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8 hours ago, J10 said:

On a side note, after seeing the weather over the Alps this winter has the weather always been that volatile or are we seeing a new water pattern emerging. 

A very interesting question Julian! The climate scientists have warned us to expect more extremes (storms, precipitation, etc) as the world warms. In the northern hemisphere we have entered a period of extraordinary warmth in the Arctic Region which seems to be increasing the frequency of a meandering jet stream and 'stuck' weather patterns. No doubt some winters this will bring frequent heavy snowfall and storms to the Alps (as this winter) but in other years will result in a persistent Euro High and lack of snow.

But if we ignore the variability and extremes there is a clearer picture (trend) emerging of what climate change will mean for the Alps, and the key variable is the steady rise in temperatures (more abruptly so since the 1980s). A very interesting paper was published in 2013 - well worth a read. Here's some extracts:

Climate change and snow cover in the European Alps
Abstract: Climatic changes are already having a significant impact on snow cover in the European Alps. Several studies from Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy and Germany have noted a general decrease in snow depth and snow cover duration since the end of the 1980s throughout the European Alps. Investigations of snow cover and climate change have revealed that the reduction in snow reliability observed in low and medium altitude ski resorts is mainly caused by warmer winter temperatures. Precipitation becomes the determining factor for a snowy winter only above 2000 m asl. Projected changes in temperature and precipitation are expected to cause further significant decline in the snow reliability of Alpine ski areas. The impacts of these changes, however, are not uniform. They depend on altitude, region and local factors. For example, the impact of climate change is stronger at low altitudes, in inner-alpine dry valleys and on southern slopes, which leads to winners and losers among the different ski areas.

The seasonal snow cover in the Alps is primarily influenced by high year-to-year variability due to anomalies in large-scale weather patterns. Several studies have nevertheless noted a general decrease in snow depth and snow cover duration since the end of the 1980s at low-lying stations throughout the European Alps.

In the Swiss Alps, a significant decrease in snow depth for elevations below 1300 m asl was observed in the late 20th century with measurements from more than 100 stations, whereas no significant differences could be detected for high-altitude stations above 2000 m asl. The long-term snow trends in the Swiss Alps appear to be similar for all three variables: snow depth, the duration of continuous snow cover and the number of snow fall days. Earlier investigations concluded that the length of the snow season and the amount of snow have substantially decreased since the mid 1980s, but during several periods in the records, e.g., in the 1930s, the snow depth was as low as during the late 1980s. However, a newer study using more data from the last 130 years indicated that the series of snow-poor winters over the 20-year period from 1988 to 2007 was unique. In particular, it showed that the decline was caused by an abrupt change, rather than by a continuous decrease. The number of snow days, i.e. days with snow depth of at least 30 cm, at ski resorts between 800 and 1200 m asl, for example, dropped by about 35 % after the end of the 1980s compared to the long-term mean before the change. The determining signal for this change was mainly temperature and not precipitation, and this has had considerable impact on the mean evolution of snow cover during the last twenty years.

In the Austrian Alps, various snow parameters at 98 long-term stations were investigated and a more diverse picture was found. The two 20-year periods between 1980 and 2000 and between 1896 and 1916 were compared and tested for changes. Statistical tests detected decreasing trends at the majority of the stations, but the decline was only significant at the southern Austrian stations.

Full report: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261037820_Climate_change_and_snow_cover_in_the_European_Alps

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Thanks for thinking of me Reefseeker! And thank you for your kind message @Windchime72. I'm happy to say the transfer coach made it up into the village, albeit slowly with all the snow on the road an

Oh yes, I do not go all the way down on the Lauberhorn now but the Lauberhorn chairlift takes one from the railway station at Kleinne Sheidegg at 6,700 ft to near the top of the Lauberhorn mountain, a

Here are some super pictures taken on the local mountain yesterday . Piste preparation looking good.  C

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Absolutely hammering down with snow in the Western Alps this afternoon (Sat 20th). It's still meant to be snowing when I arrive in Val d'Isere around mid-day tomorrow. Hopefully there's not going to be any problems getting up to the resort (it's at 1,850m), but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few problems more generally around the Alps today due to the intensity of the snowfall. The picture this afternoon:

Val d'Isere 5a63584356205_ValdIsereSat20Jan.thumb.jpg.cb7f6c15f49eb76c2a91d78804456435.jpg Meteo France Radar 5a63585c0e8cd_FrenchRadarSat20Jan.thumb.jpg.9a65ba483c330187ba7021435656565c.jpg

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The snowfall over the Alps has been quite incredible. In all the years I have been stalking the Les Arcs webcams, I have never seen it looking like this. I do hope @Blessed Weather has made it safely and successfully to Val D'Isere. 

Can't upload the image unfortunately from the Les Arcs webcam.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Reefseeker said:

The snowfall over the Alps has been quite incredible. In all the years I have been stalking the Les Arcs webcams, I have never seen it looking like this. I do hope @Blessed Weather has made it safely and successfully to Val D'Isere. 

Can't upload the image unfortunately from the Les Arcs webcam.

 

 

Thanks for thinking of me Reefseeker! And thank you for your kind message @Windchime72. :) I'm happy to say the transfer coach made it up into the village, albeit slowly with all the snow on the road and quite a few cars slithering to a halt and having to put chains on in the road. (And the moral of that story is they should have pulled in earlier, into the designated lay-by's specifically there for putting chains on - the sign was lit up back down the road telling them to!!).

So some very heavy rain on the way from Chambery airport, finally turning to snow probably around 1,200m. This afternoon it's just kept coming down here in Val d'Isere at 1,850 (with a max temp of -2C). I have to say in all my years of skiing I've never been in a resort with so much snow! Incredible depths on roofs and the side of the roads. The paths around the village are just deep cuttings through the snow! A few quick pics.

5a64cddfc2f50_VdISunpm1.thumb.jpg.28438d62fba8c66ddbb031374e4fe26d.jpg5a64cea5c21eb_VdISunpm2.thumb.jpg.b362bec992266f5d83b114d0edaff41c.jpg5a64d07a18d1b_VdISunpm3.thumb.jpg.96ccd12ac623cf563b3d600c1cd21f5f.jpg

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Sacré bleu!! Here we are on Monday morning and it's been snowing hard all night and now the wind has got up and it's blowing around. The local Val d'Isere radio has just confirmed what the resort 'app' is saying - the resort access road is blocked and the village now cut off and none of the lifts/pistes are open yet as the avalanche risk is too high. The teams haven't been able to get up the mountain to set off the explosives and helicopters are grounded. The resort teams hope to open some lower slopes later. Looks like a morning of wondering around taking pics!

My room is up in the eaves of the chalet and here's the view this morning. Snow piled to the roof one end and you can just see over the accumulation on the hand rail the other end. Look at the depth on the roof opposite! 

5a65a37c69452_VdIMonone.thumb.jpg.3037888e79224dce6366274213258231.jpg5a65a38572793_VdIMontwo.thumb.jpg.6bc8e89e8816b720b72aa5efd1aea77a.jpg

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Well the tale of woe in the Jungfrau region continues. All rail links out of Lauterbrunnen closed this morning due to a landslide, not sure just where. Avalanche warning is at max of 5 . Some lifts are quoted as open. I feel so sorry for those new to this area. Snow andlor rain for the last 7 days. Glad I decided not to ski, just riding various transports when working and walking. Snow ploughs and blowers working overtime. Currently rainng in Wengen with T of 1.5 C, over 200 cm is quoted at 2000m for most of the area. Enjoy BW.

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https://www.netweather.tv/weather-forecasts/travel/ski

image.thumb.png.4a72e541a874aa5af0f9e7e7400d116f.png

https://www.weathertoski.co.uk/weather-snow/latest-snow-report/

Latest snow report Updated: 9.30pm Monday 22 January 2018

"Snow conditions in the Alps are truly exceptional, with record- breaking base depths for January in a number of high resorts in the north and west.

One such resort is France’s La Rosière, which has seen more than 8m of snow this season already (at village level) and has settled snow depths of around 300cm lower down and 400cm up top. A little bit further north, Flaine has an incredible 420cm of settled snow on top of its Grandes Platières mountain while, over in Switzerland, Engelberg eclipses everywhere with a staggering 625cm of snow on its Titlis glacier. In short, you would have to go back to February 1999 (the big avalanche season) to see anything like these sorts of depths across such a wide area."

However the massive snowfalls has caused issues across the Alps, with avalanche risks very high once again. Hope everyone over in the Alps remains safe.

http://www.snow-forecast.com/whiteroom/zermatt-cut-off-third-day/

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Never seen something like this! Perhaps I wouldn’t mind thaw with all of that, the flooding though would be horrendous from snow melt once it does. Torrential snow it must have been.

 

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Val d'Isere has now recorded 6.09m of snow this season. Their record for a whole season is 7.98m, that must be under threat.

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Well some improvements but still plenty of concerns in Zermatt. Road and rail still blocked as of last night. Family feedback is that there is actually a great atmosphere in the village. Free food and drink being served up near to the station and around the centre. Bars are full and great, friendly times are being had by all apparently. Many people, unsurprisingly, are happy they can stay longer!

Those that want to leave or come to the village are being flown in or out by helicopter, at a cost, but covered by insurance. Although fresh avalanches on the road between Täsch and St Nicklaus are meaning journeys are taking longer and as such fewer people are getting in or out. However more heavy snow expected this weekend.

Some good news Avalanche danger has gone down to 3 and some slopes are reopening. The Gornergrat rail system is also reopening but as yet is not going all the way to the top .

We normally have a visit this time of year but by chance we are off to Levi this Saturday instead and then Zermatt late Feb......... if we can get in that is

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1 hour ago, Betleyblizud said:

An interesting development

I’ve just read on Sky News that scientists in Idaho USA are claiming that they have produced, via cloud seeding, heavy snow that falls and lies on the ground. This is the first time this has been achieved outside the laboratory. Although there are some claims that the Chinese are also able to do this.

Sorry I can not post a link but obviously this could have huge implications for winter sports resorts around the world.

Oh in case anyone asks I did check the date after reading it and no it’s not April1st!

Edited by Betleyblizud
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On 1/23/2018 at 12:26, Daniel* said:

Is there a thing of having too much snow? A truly very snowy winter this is turning into 1500 meters up especially. 

Hi Daniel. Now that's a good question and you'd think you can never have too much..... but actually for those of us who are on a week's skiing/boarding trip to the Alps, if really heavy snowfall happens during your trip it can definitely wipe out some of your holiday! 

I arrived in Val d'Isere Sunday in heavy snowfall which kept going - so no lifts or pistes open Monday and then only a third of the resort opened on Tuesday as they still had to clear multiple avalanche risks and prepare (piste) runs. This meant that Tuesday, with very limited lifts open, the queues were horrific - half hour wait to get on a chairlift. Finally today (Weds) the sun has shone and most of the resort is open - so it's been fantastic with everyone finally spread over the mountain with no queues and empty pistes!!

This coming Friday the heavy snow is forecast to set in again - so maybe another day where skiing will be very limited. But I'm not moaning as it's been a great week to be in the Alps and experience the extreme weather. Wish you were here!! :)

A few pics from today.

5a68f694cd854_VdIWedOne.thumb.jpg.0a114e1ec9e304a40045a04462e3a9d0.jpg5a68f6accee72_VdIWedTwo.thumb.jpg.2caa5b39854a9a83624ac79a50936fc6.jpg5a68f6b34aca5_VdIWedemptypiste.thumb.jpg.f9511d7c6eb3b54dc4dce0e20222595b.jpg

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I wish I was there too superb pics!! @Blessed Weather

 Next season I’m definitely going to break my ski ‘virginity’. I’ll probably be amongst the kiddies knowing how amateur I’d be. :nonono: I’d take it easy with my bones lol no summersaults !  :rofl:

I get incredibly jealous while it’s fantastic to see, just the sense of missing out!

No wonder you and others flock to the slopes of mainland Europe, for also that snow fix! The most elevation near me is a 10 meter artificial hill, flat as a pancake as is much of East Anglia. It’s a different world at that altitude! To even have 0.1% of the snow I’ve seen in some pics would sadly please me, hopefully UK’s fortune changes but here we usually get the scraps I have some hope for February.. it has turned milder is there not a big avalanche risk currently? Or is the freezing level still at a reasonable level even the sheer amount of snow fallen, I would think may pose a big risk regardless if it’s very cold.

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I just love those pics, Malcolm, you are lucky to be there in such unusual conditions, it must be amazing to see. It is almost worth missing a day or two skiing!

Daniel, great post. I highly recommend breaking your virginity next year, you won't regret it. I spent many years watching the model forum for the tiniest chance of a flake or two, then in desperation booked a last minute weekend to Scotland in Jan 2015 when the snow was good there. I fell in love with skiing that weekend and immediately booked a week in Austria, and have been skiing as often as possible ever since. Once you have a taste of real snow, the disappointment you feel when the models backtrack isn't nearly so painful!

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11 hours ago, Blessed Weather said:

Hi Daniel. Now that's a good question and you'd think you can never have too much..... but actually for those of us who are on a week's skiing/boarding trip to the Alps, if really heavy snowfall happens during your trip it can definitely wipe out some of your holiday! 

I arrived in Val d'Isere Sunday in heavy snowfall which kept going - so no lifts or pistes open Monday and then only a third of the resort opened on Tuesday as they still had to clear multiple avalanche risks and prepare (piste) runs. This meant that Tuesday, with very limited lifts open, the queues were horrific - half hour wait to get on a chairlift. Finally today (Weds) the sun has shone and most of the resort is open - so it's been fantastic with everyone finally spread over the mountain with no queues and empty pistes!!

This coming Friday the heavy snow is forecast to set in again - so maybe another day where skiing will be very limited. But I'm not moaning as it's been a great week to be in the Alps and experience the extreme weather. Wish you were here!! :)

A few pics from today.

5a68f694cd854_VdIWedOne.thumb.jpg.0a114e1ec9e304a40045a04462e3a9d0.jpg5a68f6accee72_VdIWedTwo.thumb.jpg.2caa5b39854a9a83624ac79a50936fc6.jpg5a68f6b34aca5_VdIWedemptypiste.thumb.jpg.f9511d7c6eb3b54dc4dce0e20222595b.jpg

Great photos Malcolm. Glad the sun shone. Wow those runs look massive. Think I will stick with the gentle tree lined runs in Austria with its lovely mountain huts ! Have another good day.

C

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24 minutes ago, carinthian said:

Super ski-ing this morning. This view of the mostly red run into village. Best snow conditions for years in these parts.

C

26961551_10156160130618628_1505675424130181288_o.jpg

Onwards, ski touring the nearby Katschberg back runs. Crazy walk up but the view and descent well worth the effort.

C

27072717_1795543750458224_8097592892029718224_n.jpg

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2 hours ago, J10 said:

A much more settled weather week over the Alps, dry with lots of sunshine so great skiing conditions, but an Avalanche risk remains due to high daytime temps.

https://www.netweather.tv/weather-forecasts/news/8703-settled-and-mild-for-much-of-the-next-week-over-the-alps

Great blog Julian. Thanks.

The heavy snowfall expected here in the French Alps didn't arrive today (Friday). I've watched the forecasts slip back and back as the incoming front stalls out west. The cold temps not arriving either and a brisk southerly wind, so a bit slushy down in the village a few degrees above. But at least another good day's skiing 'up top' in variable cloud.

The off-piste freaks in our chalet group reckon they've had the best week's skiing ever after last weekend's heavy fall. 

Last day tomorrow before flying home Sunday..... darn it, where did that week go!!

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