Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (and let’s face it, there’s plenty of those to chose from!), you are probably aware that the start of the winter season in Europe has been particularly dry. Thankfully these days if it doesn’t fall out the sky it can be fired out of a cannon, giving us surprisingly good piste conditions in all the ES resorts.
Obviously, however we would all like some more snow, and in a ski resort in the middle of a dry spell you can always find someone who will tell you that it is just around the corner. There are various forecasting websites out there which for the most part do a reasonable job of forecasting the weather in the ever changing mountain environment. However, there are some forecasting pitfalls so here is our guide to the various forecasting websites, and when it is safe to get your hopes up of an imminent dump.
Short term forecasts
For Verbier, Zermatt and Chamonix major snowfalls come from the west or north west. If there is snow forecast in the next few days and it is arriving from this direction then the chances are good that it will not only deliver but produce more than was predicted. However, if it comes from the south the weather is partially blocked by the high mountains along the Swiss/Italian border which can often result in somewhat less snow than predicted.
The default weather across the Alps is sun and it takes a fairly major weather event to disrupt this. Looking further ahead than 5 or so days, smaller snow flurries may well not materialise. Look out for major snowfalls over at least a 24 hour period to be sure that it will actually arrive.
Some sites such as snow-forecast.com predict snow depth whilst others such as yr.no display mm of precipitation. So how much snow does 1mm of precipitation give? This is a tricky question to answer as the form of the snow flakes falling can vary with a number of factors, such as temperature, humidity and altitude. But a good rule of thumb is 1mm of precipitation transforms to 10mm of snow, with colder temps giving less
Some useful website
snow-forecast.com provides a nicely laid out free 5 day forecast at resort, mid and top elevations
yr.no offers a detailed daily forecast split into 3 hour periods as well as a mid range and long range 9 day forecast.