If you're heading out to ski in the Alps or Pyrenees this weekend then you will probably have heard that there is mega-snowfall forecast. Some resorts are expecting over 150cms over the course of the next 4 days, with the heaviest snow due on Thursday (tomorrow) and Saturday.
Whilst we all love this kind of news, travelling in these conditions can present a few challenges. Here's a few tips which we hope will help!
1. Snow chains:
Before you leave home take them out of the box and fit them, so you know how they work. There's few things worse than having to stop halfway up a mountain road as night is falling, trying to make sense of a flimsy paper instruction leaflet which is slowly disintegrating as the snow is coming down.
Having a couple of dry runs in more comfortable temperatures in full daylight, with the prospect of popping inside for a cup of tea afterwards, can make all the difference.
2. Old waterproof jacket/blanket/thin gloves/head torch:
All these items are related to the fitting of chains. An old jacket means you can pop it on and you don't mind it getting wet or dirty whilst you fit your chains. Thin gloves mean your fingers can stay warm. An old blanket or similar will give you something to kneel on on the snow, and a head torch will free up your hands.
3. Flask of something hot/snacks/water:
It can be very slow going up a mountain road when the snow is heavy. If you and everyone else has chains on then everyone has to go slower anyway, plus there could of course be hold ups along the way. Have some snacks and drinks in the car, and if you can a flask of hot coffee can do wonders.
If the forecasts are correct, snow could be continuing throughout the week, so it's not a bad idea to have your own shovel (ideally with a plastic blade, such as those used in avalanche backpacks, this will protect your paintwork). A soft bristled broom will also be very handy in brushing off soft light light snow, particularly from the roof of the car.
Self-Drive from the airport:
1. When picking up a hire car make sure it is equipped for snow. The hire company should supply chains and also ask what kind of tyres you have. When you get to the car make sure the chains are in the car before you set off and take them out of the box to see how they work.
2. As in 2 above - if you know there will be snow on the road don't travel in your best and brightest jacket, and keep some thin gloves handy.
3. Before you leave the airport grab some snacks for the journey and bottles of water.
It's a good idea if all members of your party keep their phones well charged and take a car charger if you have one.
Coach/Minibus from the airport:
1. If you're getting a transfer from the airport then one of the best things to have with you is patience. Whilst transfer drivers are generally pretty experienced in tough road conditions they could be caught up in delays getting to you. Look on it as a good thing - when you get to resort you'll have lots of fresh snow and probably excellent conditions.
2. Warm clothing: this might sound obvious, but it's not unusual to see people coming off the plane in t-shirts or high heels or generally under-dressed for severe alpine weather. Make sure you have gloves, a hat, a warm outer layer and appropriate footwear. Looking like a fashionista at Gatwick doesn't mean you'll look cool in resort as you struggle to stay upright with your luggage to get into your accommodation.
It certainly looks like the next few days are going to deliver - all the forecasts are saying pretty much the same with just a few variations in amounts expected. It also looks like the snow will be arriving across the board - so wherever you're skiing in Europe, there will be some fresh snow on the way. Temperatures are set to stay cold with the freeze level generally well below 1000m - which means that there should be generous dumps of snow in the lower resorts and valleys too!
It also means that skiing in February is going to be excellent!