In case you missed it… it’s blooming cold this week!

The “Beast from the East” a.k.a. Storm Emma is upon us. An area of high pressure over Scandinavia / Siberia and low pressure further south will combine over the next few days.

As in the Northern Hemisphere the high-pressure moves in a clockwise direction and the low pressure moves anti-clockwise, you can see how this can cause some severe weather when they clash. Windy Wilson calls it a “pressure sandwich”.

This weather is a result of the Polar Continental air mass, bringing bitterly cold winds and snow. So this week we’re including some health advice before delving into the weather in our training resorts.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Please take all necessary precautions should you be skiing this week, or planning to spend time outside or in the mountains.

Signs and symptoms of frostbite include;

  • The areas of the body affected by frostbite feel cold and firm
  • Burning, tingling, stinging, or numbing sensations
  • Clumsiness can result from impaired motor control
  • Swelling, redness, loss of sensation, and white plaques on the skin
  • Blisters filled with blood

A person with frostbite should be taken to a warm environment as soon as possible and given first aid.

Signs of Hypothermia include;

  • Shivering
  • Cold and pale skin
  • Slurred speech
  • Fast breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion

These are symptoms of mild hypothermia, where someone’s body temperature is between 32C and 35C. If their temperature drops to 32C or lower, they’ll usually stop shivering completely and may pass out.

If you suspect someone has Hypothermia, you should call 112 or the piste patrol and give first aid where possible.

St Anton Snow Field Feb 2018

Courchevel and Meribel

Avalanche risk remains much the same as last week, with lower slopes classed at Level 2 (Moderate) and slopes above 1900m are at Level 3 (Considerable). We are unsure how the freezing weather and predicted snow will affect the snowpack, but it is likely the risk will rise.

Today we are at -12C at resort level, but can expect it to drop to -18C on Tuesday and a frozen -22C on Wednesday. Despite a dosing of snow between Wednesday and Friday morning, the freeze will lift rapidly to a balmy 1 degree Friday afternoon. Don’t ditch the layers just yet though – Saturday will see a well-anticipated snow dump throughout the day, keeping temperatures below zero.

St Anton

The avalanche forecast is much the same as our French resorts, with slopes above 2000m being very susceptible to faults and cracks, and the slopes above 2400m might suffer from old snow sliding too. Again the risk is likely to rise as the hard weather hits mid-week.

Weather-wise St Anton sees a more extreme weather change: it will be consistently chilly, at -22C on Tuesday and Wednesday, but rise rapidly again for the rest of the week, floating between -5C and 4C. This will likely bring rain at resort level on Saturday morning.

Operations manager Michal Bierczynski says, “make sure you take care of yourselves with extra layers, face & neck buffs/gaiters”.

Powder turns in St Anton Feb 2018

Verbier and Villars

Verbier and Villars continue the trend of seeing milder weather than our other resorts, with a more refreshing -18C across the next few days. This is accompanied by a smattering of snow and some freezing rain at resort level on Friday morning. Fear not, there will be a lot more of the fluffy frozen stuff over the weekend to top up the resort.

The avalanche risk has stabilised at Level 2 (Moderate) throughout the region. The SLF recommend caution on higher slopes, particularly those used by ski tourers as avalanches can still be set off by people in untouched areas.