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4,000 STRANDED BY HEAVY SNOW - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Friday December 29, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Some people took up to 10 hours to get in or out of resorts. Others are stranded with missed flights & some have been unable to get to their resort. PlanetSKI reports. UPDATED

Another huge fall of snow hit the Alps on Saturday on what was one of the busiest transfer days of the winter as some people left after Christmas and others headed out to the Alps for the New Year. 

Heavy snow and rain brought travel chaos across parts of the French Alps.

There was severe traffic disruption including police enforced road closures in and out of ski resorts.

3,500 people were stranded on the roads and a further 500 were stuck at Chambery airport.

Up to 1m fell at altitude and there was danger of avalanches across roads.

Les Arcs, La Plagne, Tignes, Val d'Isere, the resorts of Les3Vallees, La Rosiere and many more were affected.

The road to La PlagneThe road to La Plagne

Chambery Airport was badly hit with some flights into the airport from the UK cancelled in order not to make the over-crowding worse.

More than 500 people had to be looked after overnight. 

200 slept at the airport, some were put up in local hotels and others in local sports centres.

Elsewhere people who were stranded on the roads were found accommodation and local people offered rooms in their homes to hundreds of people.  

400 people slept at Marlioz high school in Aix-les-Bains.

Elsewhere they were stranded in Albertville, Grignon, Tours-in-Savoy, Gilly-sur-Isere and Moûtiers.

On Sunday the storm has passed with blue sky overhead and many of the roads cleared.

"Following the heavy snowfalls in France on Saturday 30th December we would like to apologise to all our customers who have been delayed returning home or travelling to resort," said a statement from Crystal Ski on Sunday morning.

"We proactively delayed flight departures yesterday Saturday 30th December, to try to minimise the number of customers affected by the poor weather, which will now depart today, 31st December.  A revised flying programme has been created," the statement added.

Some people arrived at the airport from their resort unable to get a flight out and those that landed were unable to get coaches out due to dangerous and congested roads.

Many drivers had also gone over the number of hours they are legally allowed to be at the wheel.

There were reports of chaos at the airport itself on Saturday.

"Ten hours after landing, with minimal information about what is going on and what's happening (we now know we are not going to Tignes tonight, but we have no info on where we are staying)," said one person on social media.

"Ten hours later, some welfare has finally arrived in the form of cold baguettes and bottled water and no vegetarian option at all, plus no organisation behind distribution, so the crowd are just mobbing the desk to grab baguettes."

The ski tour operator, Inghams, posted the following at 8PM on Saturday night after a day of severe problems:

"Due to heavy snowfall in France, transfers to and from some ski resorts are affected. 

"We are working closely with airlines, local authorities and transfer companies to provide the necessary arrangements.

"Thank you for your patience.

"For those going home today, who have missed flights, alternative flights are secured for you.

"If necessary, overnight accommodation is being provided.

"Onward travel in the UK is being arranged where necessary. For those arriving in France, we are working to get you on the road to resort as best we can. Where we need to ask you to overnight en route, you will be advised by our local staff.

"We hope to get you to your resort as soon as possible.

"Thank you for bearing with us in this situation."

However some skiers and snowboarders say they were put up in a sports hall near Chambery airport with no food, water, blankets or heating.

Overnight accomodationOvernight accomodation

The Red Cross brought some beds to the airport itself.

Chambery airportChambery airport

One of our PlanetSKI readers, Freddie Plant, was heading to Val d'Isere on Saturday.

"We have been at a standstill for about an hour with the driver on the loudspeaker talking to all his mates about the problems," said Freddie on Saturday afternoon.

Many drivers took short cuts away from the main roads in an effort to avoid the jams, but to no avail.

The back road towards Val d'IsereThe back road towards Val d'Isere

At a standstillAt a standstill



"Grid locked changeover day. Chaos and rain. Poor folks, after digging cars out of cement like snow with bum boards and frying pans will be stuck in their cars crawling along the French roads all day and all night. And the same for those arriving. Or dragging their suitcases and kids through the knee deep icy slush to wait for a transfer bus an hour or two delayed," said PlanetSKI reader, Diane Frazer, from Les2Alpes in the southern French Alps.

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France



One person's journey from Chambery airport to Les Arcs has reportedly taken 10-hours.

The snow started falling on Friday evening and causing some travel problems according to our friends at Ski Weekender:

It's started!It's started!

"Anyone driving to the higher resorts of the north-western Alps (e.g. Val d'Isere, Tignes, La Rosiere, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Val Thorens) be warned, conditions will be very difficult with 40-70cm of snow in the forecast (locally even more)," said Fraser Wilkin from on Friday.  

"Be prepared for long delays, possible road closures and make sure you have winter tyres and chains," added Fraser.  

He compiles the weekly PlanetSKI snow report and see below for the latest overview of conditions.  
Snow forecastSnow forecast

Alex Beuchert, who's in Tignes, said on Saturday afternoon that it's been dumping snow there.

"Crazy conditions for peak weekend transfers (my thoughts are with the drivers! Drive safe!)...but it's forecast to be SUNNY tomorrow!!" she said.

She said the avalanche risk in the resort was currently at its highest level -  5 out of 5 - which is pretty rare. 

Warnings of travel chaosWarnings of travel chaos

Here at PlanetSKI we will be continuing to update this article over the weekend so do check back.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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