Why is Andermatt so snow-sure? Guest blogger Fraser Wilkin investigates.
As autumn officially starts across Europe, and Andermatt receives its first snow. We turn our attentions towards the exciting winter season ahead, and welcome guest blogger Fraser Wilkin, who is founder of snow-fall website weathertoski.co.uk. Below Fraser investigates just what makes Andermatt the snow-sure alpine haven it is.
By Fraser Wilkin
It is widely acknowledged that Andermatt has one of the best snow records in the Alps. Quite why, however, is not so well understood. After all, the village sits at a relatively modest 1,444m and, whilst the Gemsstock reaches nearly 3,000m, there are plenty of other resorts with similar or greater top heights that don’t enjoy the same reputation.
So if it’s not all about height, what exactly is behind Andermatt’s extraordinary snow record?
The secret lies in its very particular microclimate. Andermatt is one of only a few resorts that can receive significant snowfall from several different directions – north, west, and (crucially) the south.
When a winter storm forms over the Mediterranean, it is normally the Italian resorts or those of the southern French Alps that benefit most – the clouds have been purged of most of their moisture by the time they make it across to the northern Alps. However, there are number of weak spots in the high border areas of the Italian Alps where, for one reason or another, the geography conspires to allow precipitating clouds piling up on the southern side to spill over and benefit areas further north. The area to the south of Andermatt is precisely just such a point, with weather from Italy often spilling over the border to affect a sizeable portion of central southern Switzerland (from roughly Zermatt in the west to the San Bernadino tunnel in the east) including Andermatt in the middle.
However, Andermatt also receives heavy snow from the north and west, the direction from which most Swiss resorts (including Verbier, Wengen, Engelberg and Klosters) would expect to see the majority of their snow arriving from.
There are many resorts in the Alps that receive at least a little snow from multiple directions, but it is Andermatt’s ability to receive snow from 3 different directions that is key. This is a handy insurance policy if the weather gets stuck in a rut, and one side of the Alps is getting all the snow whilst the other is experiencing drought. Andermatt is right in between and only really suffers if the whole of the Alps is suffering, which is relatively rare. Add to that a decent top altitude and plenty of shady north-facing terrain and it’s not hard to see why snow conditions here are so reliable.
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To check the ski conditions where you’re heading, check out Fraser’s site.
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