23 Dec 2014

Will the Alps get any snow soon?

Whilst many of us will spend the festive period at home with friends and family, some of us will be heading further afield for Christmas.

There are those of us who prefer to seek winter warmth, but others hit the slopes in favour of a spot of skiing and some après-ski.

However, people opting for the Alpine ski resorts this year are set to be a little disappointed with the lack of snow that welcomes them.


In what is being described as the worst start to the Alpine ski season in recent memory, a lack of snow has affected skiing in France, Switzerland and Austria.

It’s estimated that only 40 of more than 200 skiing stations across France are currently open.

Why the lack of snow?

There are two main reasons for the lack of snow across the Alps during the past month – a lack of moisture and warm air.

High pressure has been sitting over the Alps for much of December, meaning that there has been a lot of dry weather, leading to a lack of moisture to produce snow.

Low pressure has generally been sitting further south over the Mediterranean Sea, not quite close enough to generate any dumps of snow for the Alps.

Even when weather fronts have passed over the mountain chain, the air with it has been relatively warm, meaning that away from the highest peaks, there’s been a tendency for rain, rather than appreciable amounts of snow.

Will there be any snow soon?

In the next few days, there’ll be little more than a few flurries on the northern side of the Alps.

However, between Boxing Day and New Year, it looks like an area of low pressure will dive southwards across the western half of Europe.

Gondolas travel through the snow covered woods along the men's Alpine skiing downhill course at Hahnenkamm mountain in KitzbuehelThis will bring some welcome snow to both the Pyrenees and the Alps. Although it won’t be a big dump of snow, it will at least get a base down on resorts to a modest height.

Around 10-15cm of snow will fall widely, with greater amounts of 15-40cm falling over the highest resorts.

The bad news is that for New Year, it looks as though high pressure will return over the Alps, bringing a return to sunshine and milder air.

It’s not the first time a lack of snow has plagued the Alpine skiing season and it only takes a change in weather pattern to reverse fortunes relatively quickly.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the snowfall across the UK and Europe throughout this winter and posting regular updates on Twitter – @liamdutton

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