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What’s in store for the next few days?
Saturday December 27, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

No sooner do we say it’s thawing a bit than it gets cold. Very cold. It's stopped melting and started freezing.

On Christmas eve we were sitting on the terrace of our office in Verbier in T-shirts drinking a glass of champagne, while on Boxing day we had to keep stopping for hot chocolates as it was so cold on the slopes.

We tried to stay on the north facing slopes as the snow was better, but in the shade it was bitterly cold. It was –10c with a wind of about 26km per hour high up, but the wind is expected to drop a little over the weekend

The fluctuations in temperature have helped stabilise the snowpack after all the heavy snow we’ve had in the past few weeks and it will hopefully mean the base is safer.  After the video below we'll explain a little of how the weather has stabilised the snow and provided a good base for the season, but first here's a video we shot in Verbier over the weekend on the conditions

If the temperature goes up and down after a snowfall the thawing and freezing of the snow makes it bond together better.  However if the temperature remains low then the snow does not bond together so well and this can lead to what is called depth hoar which is highly unstable.

Digging an avalanche pitDigging an avalanche pitDepth  hoar is like sugar and if you dig a snow hole to assess the snowpack you can literally scoop it out with your hands.

2 years ago in France 53 people died in the season making it one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities.  Our content editor, James Cove, reported on it for the BBC.

It wasn’t a year with particularly heavy snowfall, but the conditions were not good and depth hoar formed in many places

  Last winter with very heavy snowfall pretty much across the winter there were relatively few avalanche deaths because the snow pack was more stable.

Looks safe on topLooks safe on top11 people died in Switzerland, while the average is 25 per winter.

However, it has been dangerous and earlier this week a snowboarder died in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, while off piste with a friend.  He was buried under 3 metres of snow and the avalanche risk was 3.  They were on a 40 degree, south facing slope when the accident happened.

In Austria 3 people have died recently in avalanches.

The avalanche risk has dropped sharply in many resorts due to the change in the weather.

For the next few days it’s set to be cold and sunny in many parts of the Alps with it warming up and then getting cold again. If you are out in the Alps over New Year then wrap up warm and enjoy

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