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After a November of storms, huge snowfalls and early openings, December arrives this weekend with winter in better shape than usual.

After huge snowfalls over the last weekend with somewhere between 60cm and 120cm of fresh snow above 2,500m in the southern French Alps, the Piedmont area of Italy, the Aosta Valley and the south of Switzerland, today (Friday) will see further fresh snow, especially above 1,800m.

The heaviest snow – up to 30cm - will fall at higher altitudes in the northern French Alps today, especially in the resorts of the Haute-Savoie, such as Chamonix, Flaine, and across the Portes du Soleil region.

Other parts of the French Alps, The northern and western Swiss Alps and the Arlberg region of Austria could also get around 10-20cm.

Further south and east, the snow will peter out but colder temperatures will follow taking the freeze point down to around 1,000m. After sunnier skies on Saturday, a new storm moves in on Sunday, bringing more snow to the southern and western Alps on Sunday, before a drier start to the new week. 

With quite a few resorts already open – at least in part - such as Val Thorens (53/73cm), Tignes (65/150cm) and Verbier, several more are opening this weekend, including Val d'Isere (50/130cm), Lech and parts of St Moritz.

And in the Pyrenees, Arinsal in Andorra, will open 90% of its pistes on Saturday.

 

Austria

Austria saw some huge November snowfalls with some resorts getting more than two metres so far. The Stubai glacier has some of the deepest and the area is open fully from this weekend. Around a dozen Austrian areas are now open. In Kaprun the new 3K link is ready for the first day - 30 November – to take skiers from Kaprun directly up to the glacier.

France

The openings continue this weekend with Les Deux Alpes and Val d’Isere joining neighbour Tignes (glacier area) and Val Thorens among the leading lights getting skiers up on the slopes. More resorts are also planning to open in the French Pyrenees, including Cauterets.

Italy

Italy has had some of the biggest November snowfalls of anywhere in the Alps, with the Dolomites clocking up impressive early season depths.

Cortina d’Ampezzo and Arabba were among several early openings and Alta Badia is among areas kicking off their season this weekend. Further west, Pila’s official opening is this Saturday. More big snowfalls are forecast with some areas like Prato Nevoso likely to see up to 1.5 metres.

Switzerland

About a dozen Swiss areas are now open for the season with Saas Fee now having more than 40km of runs open. Verbier, Mürren, Crans Montana, Engelberg are getting more snow today and tomorrow.

It's shaping up to be a great early season across the Alps with fantastic skiing to be had on piste, just be aware that the snow pack is considered to be fairly unstable with widespread high avalanche risk being reported so take care if heading off piste.