The latest weather forecast from Météo France is available in various
locations in Val Thorens including:
outside the tourist office
outside the ski patrol office (by the Chamois d'Or)
outside the ski pass offices
in the Péclet lift station
If you're looking for a forecast on the web, Météo
France is a reasonably reliable source.
Val Thorens weather systems
The weather and snow conditions have a big impact on a trip to Val
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).
They 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.
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.
'This is the book I wish I'd had when I started skiing' - Amazon
Val Thorens weather: the Foehn wind
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
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
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. Rather than letting highly unusual temperatures go
unremarked, I'll note them here as they happen.
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: Friday 1st March 2019
The surprisingly high temperatures continued this week. On Tuesday 26th
February, it was 20C at 1000m and 16C at 2000m.
France Bleu says
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.
According to Météo France's bulletin for Savoie today, the temperatures
are 10C above the seasonal averages, with a maximum of 22C at 1000m, 12C
at 2000m, and 6C at 3000m.
Climate change: Saturday 21st April 2018
It has been a week of sunshine and very warm temperatures. Yesterday
the Funitel Péclet was 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
predicts temperatures of 25C or more at 1000m, 10-13C at 2000m, and 5C
at 3000m. It says 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've had some very cold weather for the last two or three days -
overnight minimums of -20C or even colder. Polar air was reaching us
here in the French Alps. Today, with south winds, it's about 20C warmer
than it was a day ago.
The cold weather is thought
to be connected with a heatwave in the Arctic. Usually, it's very
cold around the North Pole at this time of year, 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 has been 35C above its seasonal average, and Greenland has had
61 hours above freezing already in 2018, which scientists have described
as crazy, weird, and shocking.
Climate change: week ending Friday 14th April 2017
The warm weather has continued all week, with June temperatures every
day. It looks as though the temperatures will finally drop tomorrow.
Climate change: Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th April 2017
The temperatures today, Saturday 8th April 2017, were (maximum) 24C at
1000m, 15C at 2000m, and 5C at 3000m - again, about right for the middle
of June. Tomorrow, Sunday 9th April, we can expect 24C, 12C, and 4C.
These weekend temperatures come 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
It's highly damaging for the lower resorts like Méribel and
Saint-Martin, which already experienced a poor start to the season.
We've had extremely warm temperatures in spring for the last few years,
but this is the first time I can 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 has been 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.
May the best Val Thorens weather coincide with your