View of Mt Blanc from Val Thorens

Val Thorens Weather

View from Mont de la Chambre

Val Thorens Weather Forecasts

The latest weather forecast from Météo France is available in various locations in Val Thorens including:

If you're looking for a forecast on the web, Météo France is a reasonably reliable source.

Val Thorens Weather Systems

Val Thorens & Mont Blanc from Cime de Caron

The weather and snow conditions have a big impact on a trip to Val Thorens.

Our 'good' winter weather comes from westerly systems, bringing us snow; and anticyclones, which produce sunny days, and cold, clear nights (often lasting for days).

'Bad' weather is usually associated with south or south easterly winds (see the Foehn section below). These winds carry snow to the Italian side of the Alps, but tend to be dry when they get to us - and all they do is blow the snow from Val Thorens down the Belleville valley.

Val Thorens Weather: the Foehn Wind

Foehn wind, Val Thorens
Foehn wind blowing in Val Thorens

A Foehn wind is a dry, warm, down-slope wind, that occurs in the lee of a mountain range. It is also known as a 'rain shadow' wind, and as a 'snow-eater.' The Chinook is also a rain shadow wind, in north America.

Air is pushed up by the mountains on the windward side of the mountain range, and as the air pressure gets less, the air cools, and moisture in the air condenses and falls as rain or snow. As the dry air descends on the lee side of the mountains, it warms, and at a faster rate than it previously cooled, because dry air warms faster than moist air. (The dry adiabatic lapse rate is greater).

The word Foehn is German. It probably comes, distantly, from the Latin favonius, a mild west wind. It may have been transmitted to German through Romansh, a Latin-based language spoken in remote valleys in Switzerland; Romansh is a legacy of the Roman occupation of Switzerland.

In Val Thorens, the Foehn is associated with S or SE winds.

Val Thorens weather: the Lombarde wind

The Lombarde is an E to NE wind which affects the areas of France bordering Italy, and blows out of the Lombardy region of Italy. It often appears in forecasts alongside the Foehn. As far as I understand it, the Foehn affects Val Thorens more than the Lombarde.

Val Thorens Weather: Climate Change

Dalles piste, 17th November 2015
Dalles piste, 17th November 2015

The past few years have seen rising temperatures, as the Alps warm faster than the global average. Surprising warmth in November means less snow for the start of the season; blazing springs see the snow melt at lower altitudes.

In recent years, the weather forecast from Météo France in Bourg Saint-Maurice has regularly noted temperatures far above normal for the time of year, and often breaking all previous records.

Climate Change: March 2020

On 5th March 2020, the BBC reported on Europe's exceptionally warm winter.

The average temperature in December, January and February was 3.4C above the 1981-2010 average, and 1.4C warmer than the previous winter record in 2015-16.

The director of the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service said that this winter was a 'truly extreme event'.

Climate Change: late February 2019

Surprisingly high temperatures were experienced at the end of February 2019. On Tuesday 26th February, it was 20C at 1000m and 16C at 2000m.

France Bleu said that the temperatures in France on Wednesday 27th February were what would normally be expected in May. The average maximum on the day in France as a whole was 20.9C, hotter than the previous record for February of 20.2C in 1960.

Climate Change: February 2019

Temperature records for February were beaten in various parts of France on 21st February 2019. For example, Béziers reached 24.7C, beating the previous maximum of 23.1C in February 2012.

According to Météo France's bulletin for Savoie on 22nd February 2019, the temperatures were 10C above the seasonal averages, with a maximum of 22C at 1000m, 12C at 2000m, and 6C at 3000m.

Climate Change: April 2018

There was a week of sunshine and very warm temperatures. The Funitel Péclet closed because of a problem with the plastic covers over the wheels on the pylons that the lift's cables run through: the plastic melted.

The Météo France bulletin for Saturday 21st April 2018 predicted temperatures of 25C or more at 1000m, 10-13C at 2000m, and 5C at 3000m. It said these are remarkable values, sometimes records for the season. It is not normal to be breaking temperature records year after year, and you have to wonder where it will end.

Climate Change: Thursday 1st March 2018

We had some very cold weather for two or three days - overnight minimums of -20C or even colder. Polar air was reaching us here in the French Alps. On 1st March 2018, with south winds, it was about 20C warmer than it was a day earlier.

The cold weather was thought to be connected with a heatwave in the Arctic. Usually, it's very cold around the North Pole in March, and winds known as 'the polar vortex' stop the cold air escaping. As the temperature difference between the Arctic and the rest of the northern hemisphere reduces, the polar vortex may be weakening.

Siberia was 35C above its seasonal average, and Greenland had 61 hours above freezing already in 2018, which scientists described as crazy, weird, and shocking.

Climate Change: Week Ending Friday 14th April 2017

The warm weather continued all week, with June temperatures every day.

Climate Change: Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th April 2017

The temperatures on Saturday 8th April 2017 were (maximum) 24C at 1000m, 15C at 2000m, and 5C at 3000m - about right for the middle of June. The temperatures on Sunday 9th April were expected to be 24C, 12C, and 4C. These weekend temperatures came at the end of another very warm week. If it was the odd day, it might be dismissed as a one-off, but it's day after day. 

It was highly damaging for the lower resorts like Méribel and Saint-Martin, which had already experienced a poor start to the season.

We've had extremely warm temperatures in spring for the last few years, but this was the first time I could remember June temperatures at the end of March and beginning of April. It must be getting to the point where there's no point in saying 'these temperatures are about right for June', because it seems the climate has just changed. But as the world is still pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it's likely that this is just the start of the change.

Climate Change: Thursday 30th & Friday 31st March 2017

The second half of March was very warm indeed, and it peaked on 30th & 31st March. According to Météo France in Bourg Saint-Maurice, we experienced temperatures about right for the middle of June. On Friday 31st March 2017, they forecast maximums of 24C at 1000m, 15C at 2000m, and 4C at 3000m.

Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy

Skiing Made Easy is a Kindle ebook. It's a practical guide to learning to ski, based on many happy seasons of ski teaching in Val Thorens. Most of the demonstrations are performed by my friend and fellow Val Thorens ski instructor Marina.

Read more about Skiing Made Easy.

Buy Skiing Made Easy on Amazon Kindle.

'This is the book I wish I'd had when I started skiing' - Amazon reviewer.

May the best Val Thorens weather coincide with your visit!