This Thursday noon, the Savoie department was placed on orange alert “Avalanches”, according to the latest report from Meteo France.
The current situation
The snow limit is currently around 1000 m on the north slopes and around 1800 m on the south slopes. The snowpack is still thick on the northern slopes with 50 cm at 1500 m and locally up to 2 m at 2500 m.
The current disturbance has so far only deposited a small layer of fresh snow of a few centimeters (5-15 cm) from 1500 to 1800 m.
The expected evolution
The level of avalanche risk will gradually increase this afternoon, to reach the high level by next night (level 4 on the European scale) on Beaufortain, Haute-Tarentaise and Vanoise. This high risk will continue all day Friday.
The expected avalanche situation
Powder snow avalanches will trigger spontaneously in the high mountains. These avalanches will become more and more numerous over the next night and gradually more voluminous.
Some of these avalanches may reach mountain infrastructures located above 1800-2000 m altitude. Lower down, down to around 1500-1800 m, the rain will greatly moisten the snowpack, wet snow slides could reach some mountain road sectors that are still very snow-covered next night, and very rarely an avalanche of powder snow will be able to finish its course, in mixed snow in the most exposed corridors.
We will probably have to wait until Saturday morning to finally see the risk of spontaneous avalanches drop.
The expected amounts of fresh snow
By Friday morning: above 2200 m, up to 50 to 70 cm on the Haute-Tarentaise and the Vanoise, even up to 1 m on the Beaufortain. Only 30 to 50 cm in the other massifs of Savoie, not affected by orange vigilance.
By Saturday morning: the total accumulation of the episode could reach 70 to 100 cm, locally more in the sectors where the snow will have accumulated by the stormy westerly wind.