HEATWAVE HITS THE ALPS
25th June 2019 | Katie Bamber, Senior News Reporter
Last modified on December 19th, 2019
Just as the summer glacier skiing season is in full swing record breaking temperatures also arrive. PlanetSKI reports.
The Alps, as well as many other places in Europe, are experiencing an unprecendented June heatwave.
Records have been broken.
Temperatures have been recorded of more than 35°C in Chamonix (1035m) and 29°C in Val d’Isère (1860m).
Switzerland is also suffering.
In France, Fraser Wilkin of WeatherToSki says temperatures are expected to reach 37°C in Chamonix and 31°C in Val d’Isere.
This is a record – for Val d’Isère at least.
The resort is encouraging visitors to visit the cooling Lac de l’Ouillette above 2500m.
Summer skiing on Val d’Isere’s Pisaillas glacier, which is at just under 3500m – started on 8th June and is due to continue until 14th July.
The runs have still got snow but it’s looking patchy around them.
The weather has led to hundreds of paraponters landing on the summit of Mt Blanc this week due to highly favourable flying conditions and thermals.
An estimated 200 pilots top-landed Mt Blanc on Wednesday alone.
Photo c/o Cristian-Antoniu Balan.
Some pilots in the nearby Red Bull A-Alps event have been reaching reported heights of 5,500m.
Earlier in the week the first ski base jump was made from the summit of Mt Blanc.
Meterologists have expressed concern that some of Mont Blanc’s ‘eternal’ snow at the top could melt.
The heatwave is escaping nobody and nowhere in France.
Paris schools have been closed and some important exams have been postponed as temperatures soar to above 40ºC.
Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have also all recorded their highest June temperatures ever this week.
Check out the Gif below showing the temperature across Europe from Wednesday 26th June through to Friday 12th July.
— PlanetSKI Snow News (@planetski) June 26, 2019
Similar conditions are affecting resorts such as Zermatt, Verbier and Crans Montana in Switzerland.
What does this mean for mountain towns and glacier resorts that have started summer skiing?
Glaciers open for summer skiing will be hit by the heatwave.
The Grande Motte glacier in Tignes and Les 2 Alpes in the western French Alps started their summer ski sessions last weekend.
“The snow won’t disappear overnight – but it does hugely increase the risk of poor or even unskiable snow conditions on some of the Alpine glaciers later in the summer,” Fraser reports.
Here’s summer skiing on Tignes’ Grande Motte on Tuesday 25th June, just before heatwave hit:
WEDNESDAY 25TH JUNE
In some parts of the Alps the temperature could hit 18ºC at 3,000m and 8ºC at 4,000m.
“A major heatwave is expected this week as a plume of exceptionally hot air from Africa will lead to potentially record-breaking temperatures in the Alps,” said our resident alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin from weathertoski.co.uk.
In the Alps it will be the hottest in France and Switzerland.
The French glacier resorts of Tignes and Les2Alpes opened last weekend as we reported at the time.
The glacier ski conditions are good following a cold and snowy May but the approaching heatwave will have a significant impact.
“This is bad news for summer skiing in the Alps, as the glaciers are expected to take a hammering from the scorching temperatures over the next few days,” added Fraser.
The news is less bad in Austria where Hintertux remains open.
It had higher levels of winter snow and the heatwave in the latter part of this week will be less pronounced.
We were skiing in Hintertux in May and preparations were already being made for the summer season with snow being farmed and stored.
PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, explains how it works:
See here for our special in-depth feature on where it is possible to ski in the summer months.
Both in the northern and southern hemispheres:
The heatwave could see temperatures as high as 40ºC in the valleys and higher up will have an impact.
“This doesn’t call for immediate panic though – the snow won’t disappear overnight – but it does hugely increase the risk of poor or even unskiable snow conditions on some of the Alpine glaciers later in the summer and/or before their scheduled closure,” said Fraser.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be keeping an eye on the impact on the summer skiing conditions so do check back…
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