Another storm batters the Alps

22nd January 2018, by Abi Butcher

What to do on a bad weather day: an avalanche exercise

What to do on a bad weather day: an avalanche exercise

The Alps are in the grip of another storm this morning, with avalanche warnings at their highest and many resorts again on lock down.

With huge falls of fresh snow since Saturday night, strong winds and rising and falling temperatures, many parts of Switzerland and France are on high alert. This morning’s avalanche alert map from the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Switzerland is almost unprecedented.

“The really bad weather will, roughly speaking, affect the French Alps north of Grenoble, most of the Swiss Alps except for the far south (Ticino) and much of Austria also away from the far south (away from Carinthia). Apart from some border areas in the far north-west (e.g. La Thuile, Courmayeur, Cervinia), Italy will escape the heaviest precipitation,” says Fraser Wilking at

In the Savoie region of France — mainly the Tarentaise Valley, but also parts of the Haute Maurienne Vanoise — the situation is the same, with torrential rain and snow for the past 24 hours and huge variations in the rain/snow limit.

Ski resorts have braced themselves for the extreme weather — with Zermatt closing on Saturday to all traffic due to extreme risk of avalanche, closing lifts and preparing for flooding and landslides further down the valleys.

But it’s not all bad news! Out in the Haute Maurienne Vanoise, web editor Abi Butcher spent the weekend on a backcountry course, skiing deep new powder safely among trees with avalanche experts from Norway and local experts Upguides, and completed a huge group avalanche exercise yesterday. Resorts might be on lock-down, but they’re coping well and the snowplough drivers are working overtime. Zermatt is issuing hourly updates and while the ski resort and walking trails are closed, it’s putting on extra films in the cinema and indoor entertainment — while stressing that if people heed warnings there is no danger for locals or guests.

The current storm is due to last until this evening, when the weather will again calm for a few days. We’ll be posting our next snow report from Weather to Ski this Thursday, but check for daily updates.


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