Tiny flakes were swirling around the top of the Grande Motte yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t quite snow, but it wasn’t wind displacement either.
It was a kind of wafty dust that barely settled on my jacket, and later on, in the village, I saw a more substantial lone snowdrop float down from the sky. But despite predictions from weather-watchers of “snowfall at 10pm”, the sky cleared overnight.
This morning, over Tignes Val Claret, where I’ve been staying this week, the cloud was much lower, enveloping the valley and spitting out miniscule flakes of something that was almost snow.
“Il neige!” I said optimistically to a man sweeping the steps (of dirt, not snow) outside the apartment on the way to breakfast. “Ce n’est pas de la neige,” he harrumphed. “C’est du givre.”
I looked up givre. “Tres fine couche de glace se formant par condensation du brouillard.” My inexpert French tells me this means a fine layer of ice formed by condensation from fog.
Whatever the stuff is, it’s still falling and has gathered pace a little. I’m leaving town this afternoon and didn’t think the mountain looked tempting enough to ski today, so I can’t tell you what’s going on up top.
Why the excitement? Well, in case you haven’t heard, the arrival – or not – of snow is on everyone’s minds in every ski resort in the Alps. Nothing has fallen for a month, and locals say there hasn’t been so little cover at this time of year for 50 years. The skies have been so clear this week that I’m coming home with a spring-like tan.
Having said that, conditions have been excellent, thanks to the glacier and snowmaking. The funicular, Grande Motte cable car, Lanche and Vanoise chairs, and Rosolin, Champagny and 3500 t-bars, and the runs they serve, are in full swing – even if the odd tiny crevasse is visible on the piste and you have to watch out for patches of glacial ice. Yesterday, the Bollin chair opened, too – with 100 per cent artificial snow.
The forecast, according to the printed bulletin in the Grande Motte cable-car station, is for some kind of precipitation some time over the weekend – definitely more than a dusting of givre – and for unsettled weather next week.
Other forecasts are even more optimistic: the Ski Club of GB says 60cm of snow is forecast in Tignes, with snowfall every day from tomorrow; snow-forecast.com says something similar, starting with 10cm tomorrow. The picture looks similar across the Alps. I hope the forecasters are right!
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