The last few days have been quite eerie in the Chamonix mountains, thanks to a cycle of desert sand blown into Western Europe from Africa. We have had spring snow conditions since my last snow report, progressively warmer and slushier as the week progressed, with a mix of clouds and hazy sun, and some foehn wind on some days. It did actually snow a couple of centimetres of snow earlier in the week up in the mid mountain, mixed in with the sand.
Yesterday above Chamonix the sky was still really hazy, with some thicker cloud in the valley, and sandy haze surrounding the higher mountains, which resulted in quite surreal atmosphere for skiing at Brévent/Flégère (see photos). Pistes were great for skiing/riding: soft and slushy, while off-piste was quite sticky, except for where it was getting skied a lot. There is an orange hue to the snow surface now, thanks to the sand, which makes it interesting, and quite different from the white snow of deep winter.
This sandy weather pattern is quite common in the late spring in the Alps, but this year and last winter it has come in early; last winter it was right at the beginning of February, but we didn't have the ski lifts running to access it. This time some other parts of Europe got it more intense, such as the Pyrenees and Southern Alps.
Today has been a bit clearer, still quite hazy, but sunny all day, and the next few days are forecast to stay sunny, and mild (especially in the afternoons), so the spring skiing conditions will continue in the Chamonix ski areas. Expect harder snow in the mornings and soft snow during the day as the sun heats things up. For the moment we still have a decent snowpack in most of the Chamonix ski areas, and hopefully more fresh snow will come in for the end of March!