Snow, what can we expect this winter?

The nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill in the air at the start and end of the day; like it or not autumn is upon us. Weekends endlessly raking leaves and wondering how early in the year it is acceptable to hit the mulled wine beckon.

A bit of colder weather inevitably leads us to pointless and scientifically shaky speculation re what snow conditions may be like this winter. Last winter was a bit of a mixed bag for snow across the French Alps. This means nothing when looking to the future though!

I have been to a number of ski related events over the past few weeks and there is much excitement about the fact that El Niño is under way in the tropical Pacific. The industry and press have collectively agreed that this will result in a cracking winter for snow … nobody seems eager to dig in to past stats in too much detail, we’re all a bit busy.

Far more solid indicators can often be gathered on the ground in France. Impressively large gentians have been spotted in Alpine pastures this summer and men of the mountain (you know the type – wizened, beret, shabby jumper) assure anyone prepared to listen that this is a sure sign of huge snow falls come the winter.

We have yet to receive notification of abnormally thick skinned onions (another very positive sign obviously) but I think that, given the grasshopper situation in July and August, we can more or less count on this signifier also giving the big thumbs up to lashings of snow. All very positive so far.

Moon cycles are notoriously difficult to decipher and I have yet to consult my Father’s detailed theories on sun spots for the next nine months (I’d need to set aside at least a day for that one and have a large glass of something to hand throughout ), but my hunch is that the odds are stacked in our favour on this front too.

Of course if you know better do let me know!

For a good overview of developing weather patterns and snow conditions we recommend the sites below. We will also be regularly updating our own information and social media. Alternatively pay close attention to the skin thickness on any onions you encounter.

Author: Chris Thompson, MD Ski Famille 
Published: 1st October 2015 

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