Fresh snow in Chatel   October 30th, 2008

The forecasters got it pretty spot on with the snow forecast. Fresh snow in Chatel, 30th Oct 2008

We woke this morning to find about 15cms of fresh snow around the chalet, plus the skies have cleared and the sun is shining.

Always great to see the mountains with a fresh coating of snow, and it’s all the more impressive when there was none 24 hours earlier.

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The last month has been a riot of colour with the trees producing a stunning Autumnal display as they have dropped their leaves. Most of the leaves have now fallen, which is good timing as we’re due for a pre-winter cold spell. We’ve up to 50cm of snow forecast at the top of the mountain for the rest of this week, which will be 2 snow falls in the last 2 months. Got to be a good sign.

Preparations are now well under way for the winter, the street illuminations in and  around Chatel have been going up for the last couple of weeks. All the snow cannons around the resort have been running today in a pre-season dry run, or more of a wet run as it wasn’t too cold.

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I’ve been doing a little research on snow predictions for the coming ski season, here’s my summary.

Last years snowy winter in the European Alps which was followed by great conditions 6 months later for the Southern Hemisphere ski resorts was generally attributed to a La Nina pattern in the Pacific combined with the Sun being at the solar minimum in its 11 year cycle.

The La Nina conditions which started June 2007, produced a remarkably cold and snowy 2007 winter in South America and a relatively quiet 2007 hurricane season. It was also blamed for the drought last summer in New Zealand and the floods in Britain too.

During late summer 2008, this La Nina pattern has finally more or less ended. Global models suggest an undeniable lull in the trend towards warming that may persist for a few more years, probably linked with the solar minimum.

Another important factor for Europe is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) prediction. The cooler, drier winter northern Europe experienced in winter 2007/8 was when the observed index was +1.6.

The predicted winter NAO index for 2008/9 is weakly positive at +0.1. However, the prediction is consistent with the coming winter being likely to be less mild than last winter, when above-average temperatures were widespread.

So far this year in Europe we’ve had a few early snow falls in August, September & October. Just last weekend in Chatel we woke to find about 5cms of snow had fallen over the village. Also I’ve noticed quite a few spiders sneaking into the chalet recently !

So what does all this mean ?  Well it seems explaining previous weather conditions with a little hindsight is pretty accurate !

But the general consensus is for coming winter to be cold one again, and last year that produced great snow and ski conditions. At the moment it seems that the predictions are giving positive signs, I’ll keep checking back as more predictions come in and let’s hope the spiders know what they’re talking about.

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