Winter makes a grand entrance in Chamonix

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After a particularly dry fall, winter 2017-2018 is off to an impressive start in the Chamonix Valley with more than half a meter of fresh snow on the ground in early December.  Should we be expecting a snowy 2018 season?

Jardin de l'Observatoire du Mont-Blanc (Chamonix 1040 m) sous la neige © GKlein

A snowy view from the Mont-Blanc Observatory (Chamonix, 1040 meters) © GKlein

 

Fall 2017: very dry conditions and cool temps

This autumn, temperatures were slightly lower (0.4° C) than the annual averages recorded between 1981 and 2010.  September 2017 saw the first periods of morning frost as early as the 15th, making it the coldest September recorded in the last ten years.  In stark contrast, October marked warm temperatures and average daily highs that were nearly on par with temperatures in September of last year: 17.6°C in October 2017 vs. 17.7°C in September 2016.  Finally, the month closed out with a chilly November:  on 29 out of 30 days that month, overnight lows dropped to 0°C or below?

Nonetheless, what made this fall truly remarkable was the lack of precipitation.  Overall, the season experienced 50% less rainfall than the 1981-2010 annual averages, and October was especially dry with 4 times less precipitation than normal.

 

Plus de 50 cm au sol en ce début de mois de décembre à Chamonix © GKlein
Over 50 cm of snow on the ground in Chamonix in early December © GKlein

The tables have turned

The first half of December 2017 has witnessed a significant change in the trend and ushered in a snowy beginning to winter.  Temperatures have dropped since the 29th of November, and when combined with significant precipitation, has allowed for an impressive accumulation of snow in the valley.   Here at the Mont-Blanc Observatory in Chamonix, we have already measured 55cm of snow.  The last time there was this much snow on the ground this early in the season was during the winter of 2012-2013, when snow depth occasionally reached the meter-mark and the snow cover on the valley floor held on until the end of March.

So, is this a good omen for the 2017-2018 winter season?   In the end, it’s really hard to say.   Weather forecasts for the next few days seem rather optimistic with significant snow predicted almost daily through the end of the week.   In any case, we feel somewhat confident that it’ll be a White Christmas this year in Chamonix—which hasn’t been the case for 5 years!

Want even more snow this winter and still looking for the perfect holiday gift for your friends or family?  Why not give the gift of snow by donating the CREA Mont-Blanc?  Click here for more details.

 

Written by : Geoffrey Klein


To learn more about Chamonix-Mont-Blanc’s climate: (in French)

Normales climatiques sur la période 1981-2010 (lameteo.com)
Climatologie mensuelle de l’automne 2017 (météociel)
Hauteurs de neige journalières et par saison depuis 2005 (Phénoclim)

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