Will there be lots of snow this year?
With winter fast approaching we are all dreaming of a cold and snowy winter, weeks of deep fluffy snow, powder skiing under blue skies, perfectly groomed corduroy pistes, soft and responsive snow that squeaks under your skis. Big powder bowls or cruisy blues through the trees we all want a fab ski season.
So, is there any way to predict if we are going to get lots of snow? Generally speaking, the Alps get 6-7 meters of snow per season. On a really good year you can get 10 meters and only 3 or 4 on a bad year. Here are a few mountain myths to predict winter snowfall months before it has started to fall.
El Nino and La Nina
Believe it or not, water temperature in the Pacific Ocean has an impact on global weather patterns. El Niño is a weather pattern that occurs in the Pacific Ocean. During an El Nino period trade winds in the Pacific cause warm surface water from the equator to move east, toward Central and South America.
La Niña, acts in the opposite way and occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean drop to lower-than-normal levels
It’s a bit complicated and scientific to explain but many people believe the European Alps have better snowfall during the El Nino period as the warmer sea temperatures creates more precipitation / snowfall in Europe and North America.
If you search the internet it’s very easy to find weather models that try to predict weather patterns and snow fall. Weather models are basically mathematical equations that take into account lots of different data such as wind, cloud patterns, temperatures, moisture and air pressure and convert them into a prediction. These are very scientific and take a lot of time to understand. In our opinion these can give fairly accurate forecasts for a week or 10 days but are unreliable for long term predictions.
Enough with the science, if you speak with genuine mountain people, born and bred farmers who have lived in the Alps their whole lives you will get a different approach to snowfall predictions. Here are a few of the mountain myths we have heard while living in the Alps the past 15 years.
Lots of red berries on the bushes at the end of the summer = lots of snow
Tall Ant Hills in July = lots of snow
If the 1st week in August is hot = lots of snow
As high as the summer plants grow so will the bank of snow
As you can see, it is very difficult to predict how snowy each season will be. Having lived in the Alps for 15 years I think every season has good weeks and bad weeks, but on the whole snow conditions are great because the pisteurs are getting better and better at managing the snow. Even on a poor snow year they will ensure the pistes are open until the end of April.
I personally believe that temperature is almost as important as the quantity of snowfall. If the ground freezes before the first big snowfalls this will really help the snowpack during the season, as it will be sitting on cold ground and will not melt as easy. Cold weather during the season is also better as it keeps the snow crisp and fresh. Warm weather makes the snow heavy and wet and less fun to ski.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast before your ski holiday, but don’t worry too much as I am sure you will have a brilliant holiday whatever the conditions.
For more information about snow conditions during the season feel free to contact us
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