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The weather worsens
Tuesday December 16, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

Zermatt is cut off, Val d’Isere is shut and winds have been gusting to almost 200 kilometres per hour in places. There have been scores of road accidents, power cuts and whole communities cut off.

The Alps is experiencing some pretty ferocious weather at the moment.

Of course all the snow is good news for us skiers and snowboarders but spare a thought for the people who live out in the Alps struggling to cope.

Sometimes it's not so good for skiers either.

A team from PlanetSKI is in Val d’Isere at the moment.  They had been planning to do some day tours with a mountain guide and enjoy the superb early season conditions.

Instead they are holed up in a small chalet up in the mountains unable to venture out.

The mountain guide they have hired for a few days seemed to sum up the conditions. “We have a scale of 1 to 5 on the danger from avalanches with 5 being the most severe, but at the moment I reckon it is a 6”.

The Premier Neige race in the resort was cancelled last weekend.

weather_2_400In the past it’s been called off because there wasn’t enough snow, but this year there is too much. The high winds whipped up so much snow that the course was barely visible and the marshals could hardly stand up.  For the skiers it would have been impossible.

2 metres of snow has fallen in the last few days and the Espace Killy is certainly set up for Christmas.  Talking of Christmas if you want to see what a traditional Swiss Christmas maket take look at this story.

In Verbier on Sunday only the nursery slopes in the town were open with people stuck on lifts as the winds caused them to be stopped immediately. Winds gusted to 140kph, while at the top of the Lauberhorn in Wengen they were approaching 190kph.

Over in Zermatt the railway line has been shut down to Tasch for fear of avalanches and so the resort is cut off.

Here at PlanetSKI we were in Zermatt when the railway line closed a few years ago and saw a headline in a British newspaper that screamed “Zermatt cut off from the outside world” and then went into detail about how there were shortages of food and supplies and deep worries that the village would run out.

The only impact we saw was that the shops began to run a bit low on fresh asparagus!

weather_village_400Elsewhere other villages are cut off with snow and fallen tress making some roads impassable. 6,500 people are cut off in the Conches Valley with schools closed and some power lines down.

It’s been the same over in Austria.

In Southern Austria one town, Lesachtal, is cut off after 2m of snow fell blocking all the access roads.

3,000 homes are without power after snow brought down power lines and engineers are still working to try to restore the electricity.

weather_gatwickThere are problems for people trying to get to the Alps from the UK too.  A reporter from PlanetSKI was delayed at Gatwick for over an hour on Tuesday morning as thick fog caused severe problems.

The picture on the right shows why.

Once at Geneva there were delays and some flights were cancelled.

Back in Val d’Isere our team from PlanetSKI is still stranded in their chalet while in town we hear that people are being advised to stay indoors for fear of snow falling off the roofs. 

weather_1_400With over 2 metres of snow on the roofs and the warmth from the buildings heating up the base large quantities of snow are unexpectedly sliding off.

If you happen to be underneath at the time it could bury you.

Ironically winter hasn’t even started yet. Officially in the Alps it starts On Sunday 21st December at 1.04PM.

We wonder what it has in store!

Don't forget to take a look at our photos of the week on the home page.  It's just been updated with some great images of winter.

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