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Unsettled weather in Alpe d'Huez

We've had a rather unsettled few days and that'll be the trend for a while

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Rob Wood | Alpe d'Huez Reporter | Published: 8 Mar 2019

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Unsettled weather in Alpe d'Huez

After a couple of weeks of very settled warm weather, the last few days have been the polar opposite. We have seen quite a bit of cloud cover, some bits of fresh snow, a fair bit of sunshine and, unfortunately, some strong winds that did lead to some higher lift closures on Monday – a real mixed bag.

We had around 5cm of fresh snow on Friday, February 28th, on Monday, March 3rd and once again overnight on Thursday, March 7th. Although not significant amounts, the cumulative effect has been to freshen up the pistes nicely.

The recent warmth has been replaced by more normal wintery temperatures, with afternoon resort highs hovering around 1ºC, whilst up on the hill it’s been a more chilly -9ºC – the sort of temperatures we are more accustomed to at this stage of the season. All of this is largely due to the dominance of low pressure at the moment. The increase in the wind speeds has been caused by a compression in the isobars, giving us gusty winds from varying directions. This looks like a pattern that is set to remain in charge for the next few days at least, although the winds shouldn’t be strong enough to cause any further lift closures.

The outlook for the next seven days is a bit unsettled with plenty of sunshine, cold temperatures and thankfully some more snow as well. It is likely that snow will fall at some point every day between Tuesday 12th through until Tuesday 19th. As has been the case for the past few days, this looks like being more of a cumulative top-up rather than one significant dump, although 15cm may fall on Tuesday into Wednesday next week. The freeze height currently stands at around 1800 metres and it looks pretty steady at this height for the next few days. This is helping keep the pistes in good condition throughout the day.

  • Thanks to the recent little top-ups, on-piste snow cover still stands impressively at:
  • Alpe d’Huez (1850m): 135cm
  • Pic Blanc (3300m): 210cm
  • Auris Station (1650m): 50cm
  • Auris Signal (2176m): 135cm
  • Villard Reculas (1500m): 65cm
  • Vaujany (1250m): 110cm
  • Oz Station (1350m): 120cm
  • Montfrais (1650m): 150cm
  • Dome des Rousses (2800m): 200cm

Meanwhile, off-piste depths still stand at:

  • 3000m: north - 265cm, south - 185cm
  • 2500m: north - 230cm, south - 140cm
  • 2000m: north - 110cm, south - 90cm
  • 1500m: north - 60cm, south - 10cm

The little bit of fresh snow has helped freshen things up a bit off-piste but it is fair to say that it is pretty tracked out now. The pistes, however, remain in beautifully corded condition thanks to the hard work of the pisteurs. The whole of the ski area remains in great condition, so take full advantage of your lift pass and get out there and enjoy it.

Avalanche risk currently stands at 3/5 across the whole of the Grand Domaine ski area with the exception of the lower pistes in Villard Reculas, where it stands at 2/5. As is always the case, take care up on the hill and if you have any queries seek the advice of the nearest liftie (in black and orange outfits) or ESF ski instructor (bright red outfits – they look like Red Arrow pilots!) as these guys will be only too pleased to lend you some advice.

We still have over 100 pistes open, 101 in operation on Thursday, being served by 66 lifts. This week is the last of the French school winter holidays and it is definitely a bit quieter on the pistes than it has been for the previous three weeks. Of these pistes, 31 are green, 30 blue, 25 red and 15 are black, so there’s plenty of variety across the whole of the ski area. The famous Sarenne black run is in good condition for its entire 16km length, whilst the super-challenging Tunnel black run remains uber-mogully and is not for the faint-hearted, with moguls the size of a small family hatchback car. All 39km of Nordic cross-country ski trails remain open as well as 28km of walking trails. Like the pistes, they remain in good condition.

Although the sunshine has been a bit more intermittent of late, the days still continue to stretch as we are now into March with sunrise 07:00 and sunset at 18:30, which means almost 11.5 hours of daylight.

Away from resort, the “gilet jaune” protests are now into their 17th week and showing no signs of letting up. Peaceful protests are becoming part of daily life on the outskirts of Grenoble and in Vizille (on the way up to resort). They continue to cause a few delays, especially on Saturday mornings – nothing to worry about but just be aware of the delays they may pose.

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