• The Chatel Snow Report

23/11/2019: Foehn Event In Full Swing...


Temperatures are still close to 10c here in Chatel and plenty of mild weather is on the way over the coming days, so cloud amounts will be important regarding the extent of the continuing thaw. Clearer skies helps snow preservation, so as little cloud as possible would be the ideal scenario. On Wednesday, low pressure is set to be near to the UK, firing in fronts towards the area, bringing a spell of persistent and perhaps heavy rain, which should turn to snow as it clears away. Thereafter, further spells of snow are possible from Thursday and into the weekend, with a snow/rain limit close to, or a touch above the village, so the ski area should benefit. At the moment, it looks very likely that this rain to snow event will occur on Wednesday, however, this may not be the event which brings us useful amounts of snow, with the potential episodes thereafter, looking more important.

The next update is scheduled for early tomorrow, followed by a trip to see how the ski area has fared after today's hairdryer treatment.


The photo below, taken at 4pm tells its own story when compared to the one taken this morning - showing the effect of a few hours of foehn. Unfortunately, it is still blowing here in the village, though temperatures have come down from their peak of 14.5c, down to 11c - so it is still very mild - but not quite as horrendously mild as earlier.

Update on the outlook expected this evening after some of the 12z model runs become available to view.


Winds are gusting to gale force at our location just below 1200m and the temperature is not far from 13c with a humidity less than 50% - so classic, "hairdryer" foehn wind conditions are in place. This phenomenon has been forecast for some days now by most of the models - except in the many automated forecasts powered by the GFS model, which have performed woefully, as the GFS appears to not deal with foehn scenarios very well - so this foehn has taken some in the valley by surprise. One valley forecast from yesterday, which is posted daily on Facebook, makes no mention whatsoever of the foehn, suggesting "light winds" and a temperature of 1c this morning - this shows the danger of just relying on one model, which results in you missing a potentially huge elephant in the room.

The foehn will bring snow eating weather today, so the longer this hairdryer lasts, the more damage it will do. As mentioned on previous updates, areas with a mix of man made and natural snow, which have been pisted or partially pisted should be fairly resilient to this mild onslaught, however, areas of natural snow cover, on all aspects and elevations of the ski area will take a battering. Although the foehn is expected to end later, generally mild conditions look like persisting until mid-week, bringing further periods of thaw, before a rain to snow event potentially arrives on Wednesday.

An update will be posted later in the day - with a comparison photo to the one taken below a few minutes ago...


As we've already been discussing on the WhatsApp group, the foehn has kicked in overnight and is bringing strong winds and VERY mild air into the area this morning... update in an hour or so...

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Update: 1.30pm: Overnight snowfall brought up to 6cm to the village - with less on other surfaces and alot of it has now thawed at this elevation. It was interesting to see more snow a few miles away