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Off Piste Snow Report – N French Alps – week starting 1st April 2024

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More unsettled weather at the start of the week with a few snow showers at higher altitudes. Turning sunny and mild for the time of season from Thursday as a high pressure weather system settles in. This should last for at least a few days.

It’s been a wild week of weather with snow and rainfall and high S’ish winds. Natural snow depths at altitudes above 2200 m remain OK. However, with the milder temperatures, accompanied by the drying Foehn wind and minimal/no overnight refreezes, natural snow depths have shrunk from what they were 2 weeks ago, even at higher altitudes. Below 1800 m or so, natural snow depths are now very sparse: non-existant really.

Snow quality has suffered too, of course. In high exposed areas and mountain ridges, the wind has either blown the snow off altogether or hardened the surface, sometimes exposing ice, making it very tricky to ski. Below 2000 m, the snow is currently very heavy, engorged with water. The S French Alps near the French/Italian border (resorts like Isola 2000) were the ones that benefited from fresh snowfall. For the N French Alps, higher altitude resorts above 2300 m are the best places to ski at the moment. Rain is washing out the lower resorts, but the higher ones have benefited from some fresh snow (albeit very wind-affected). It is very varied from resort to resort though: From Sunday into Monday morning, for example, high resorts near the French/Italian border (e.g. Val d’Isère) could receive up to 30 cm of fresh snow.

Last week’s mixed weather conditions. Mostly very windy, cloudy days like this, interspersed with a few brighter ones. Both photos taken in high altitude Tignes/Val d’Isère by Wayne Watson. The coming week expected to be similar up to Thursday, after which it should become sunny and settled.

Avalanche Bulletin

After a few days of high S’ish wind and rain/snowfall the situation will evlove see:  Météo France avalanche danger level & bulletins for N. French Alps for the level and bulletins (click on your forecast area) – across most of the N French Alps it is around a 3 or 4 out of 5 at the begininng of this week. The high more N’ish facing slopes above 2500 m are the ones where the most avalanche instability is. The S winds have caused snow drifting, particularly on high N facing leeward slopes, especially near the French Italian border. This windslab could be triggered by skiers passing by.

There is also the danger of wet snow avalanches coming down.

The vast majority of avalanche accidents involve cold, dry slab avalanches. They’re almost always triggered by the victim (or someone in their group) on N’ish facing slopes (in the Northern Hemisphere) during December, January and February – even March, this year!

Weather forecast : Mon 1st to Fri 5th April thanks to Météo Alpes 

More unsettled weather at the start of the week with snow showers at higher altitudes, particularly near the French Italian border. Becoming more settled as the week goes on. By Thursday it should be sunny and mild for the time of season as a high pressure weather system settles in. This should last for at least a few days

 

MON 1st:  Following a snowy Sunday, it will continue snowing down to around 1500 m, clearing up by midday. Cloud will build up again later with snow showers above 1300 m. 5 to 10 cm of fresh snow expected above 2300 m overnight on Monday, and a sprinkling of 2 to 5 cm at around 1700 m. Light to moderate WNW wind. O°C at  1600 m.

TUES 2nd: A few residual snowflakes floating down to 1200 m first thing. Sunshine then breaking through before wispy high cloud starts to build up in the afternoon. Light to moderate NW wind. O°C at 1500 m, rising to 2300 m at the warmest time of day.

WED 3rd: Becoming very cloudy again. Showers on and off throughout the day, falling as snowflakes above 1800 m.

THURS 4th & FRI 5th: Dry and sunny with temperatures above average for the time of season.

NEXT FEW DAYS: Continuing sunny, settled and mild for the time of season.

 

6 day weather forecast for Les Menuires by Snow-Forecast.com

Tip of the Week

Sun Shadow Slope Orientation

Since I so often talk about N’ish facing slopes (the vast majority of avalanche accidents happen on the North’sh side of the mountain – cold, dry slab avalanches triggered by the victim), and due to popular demand, I am posting this TOP TIP on using shadows to identify slope aspects (below). Also when any fresh snowfall arrives (as is forecast for the end of this week), high N’ish facing slopes are where the danger/sensitivity to triggers will be most prevalent.

SPECIAL HAT OFFER

1. To help you keep things acceptably safe off-piste and ski touring, I’m currently working on a pre-recorded online ‘Essentials Talk’. Here’s a sneak- peek draft: a ‘staff talk version’ of the Essential Talk, featuring an accident Prevention Framework, which I’m making available free of charge for a couple of weeks on my YouTube channel.

If  you find it useful, please subscribe to this channel. There are lots of other cool vids in there too! Thanks again to Jérôme for the cover photo.

2. ‘Pocket Memory Aid Pack’ (for help applying the key safety points in the Essentials Talk Framework).
Education and training is not enough. So we need simplified ‘tools’ or aids to help you remember and apply the key safety points. It’s a small investment to help to keep you to understand and reduce risk and is a much appreciated contribution to our ‘Safety is Freedom’ cause!

Safety is Freedom!

The post Off Piste Snow Report – N French Alps – week starting 1st April 2024 appeared first on Henry's Avalanche Talk.

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