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WEATHER

Storms Dudley and Eunice set to bring 140 km/h winds to northern France

Winds of up to 140 km/h are forecast when storms Dudley and Eunice hit northern France.

Storm waves crash into the sea wall of a town in northern France
Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP

A month of relative weather peace ended this week after an anticyclone that protected the country for more than a month dissipated, leaving the country at the mercy of winter Atlantic weather conditions

Storms Dudley and Eunice are forecast to sweep over Ireland, then into the UK before heading into Europe – and the north of France should brace for strong winds on Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday, and again on Friday.

The French have already witnessed a return of rainy intervals, turning wintry at higher altitudes following the break-up of the anticyclone’s ‘weather shield’.

Dudley will be the first storm to affect northern reaches of France, bringing some heavy rain and winds gusting up to 110kph overnight on the hauteurs de l’Artois and Pays de Caux, upper Normandy, and across Hauts-de-France from 10pm until about 2pm. 

Winds of up to 80kph are to be expected from Lower Normandy across to the Grand Est.

After a lull on Thursday, the more powerful Storm Eunice is set to track across a similar path on Friday, bringing wind gusts of up to 120kph in the Nord, Pas-de-Calais and Somme, rising to 140kph along the coast.

From Normandy to the Ardennes, windspeeds of up to 100kph are forecast, while further south, from Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire to the Grand Est, the gusts can reach 80 or even 90kph.

A storm surge of between 30cm and 40cm is expected along northern coasts at high tide on Friday – though that is not as high as the 1m envisaged along the coast of the Netherlands, further north, where worse conditions are predicted.

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SKIING

Snow latest: Have France’s ski resorts reopened?

As snowfall returned to the Alps and Pyrenees, here's the latest on France's ski resorts, many of which had to close at the start of the year because of a lack of snow.

Snow latest: Have France's ski resorts reopened?

As the snow returns to French mountains, many have been wondering what the situation is for French ski resorts, some of which had to close due to unseasonably high temperatures and a lack of adequate snow cover over the New Year.

The closures primarily affected lower altitude ski resorts, namely those located in the Pyrenees and Jura mountains. However, several resorts in the Alps closed temporarily too. 

Here is what the landscape for French ski resorts looked like as of January 20th:

Weather patterns

Last week, snow began to fall again across much of the southern French Alps, so much so that Alpes-de-Haute-Provence was placed on a “yellow” alert for avalanches.

READ MORE: What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

According to Science et Vie, lower altitude ski areas, such as the Vosges and Jura, collected between 10 and 25 cm of new snow at altitudes above 1,400 metres in recent days. The southern Alps and Pyrenees mountains received over 20 cm of snowfall at altitudes above 2,000 metres too.

This past week’s winter storms were accompanied by sudden drops in temperature, dropping as low as almost “-20C at high altitude” last week.

As of Friday, significant parts of the country were on ‘yellow’ warning for snow and icy conditions, low temperatures, and avalanches in some mountainous regions.

A screenshot from Meteo France on January 20th (Credit: The Local)

On Thursday, Meteo France recorded temperatures below -19C at Val d’Isère, a ski resort in the French Alps.

The Alps

As of January 20th, according to the website skiinfo, three resorts in the northern Alps remained temporarily closed. Four ski resorts in the southern Alps remained closed on Friday.

After winter weather brought a drop in temperatures to much of the Alps on Monday, some resorts took to social media to celebrate the fresh snowfall.

In Haute-Savoie, which saw almost half of its ski areas closed due to insufficient snowfall in early January, several resorts have begun announcing reopening plans. Some have preferred to reopen gradually, in an effort to give the ski area time to accumulate snow.

One such resort is the Semnoz ski area, which announced it would be reopening on January 18th. You can find more information on their website HERE. While some resorts have begun reopening, some have kept a certain runs and ski lifts closed.

As for Les Arcs, a ski resort located in Savoie, 98 of the 122 slopes were open on Friday. A few ski lifts were also still closed, but the majority were running again (49 of the 53).

Other large alpine resorts, such as Val Thorens, had reopened as of Tuesday, with just one slope remaining closed as of Friday.

The Pyrenees

In the French Pyrenees, at least a third of the ski resorts had to close in early January, and many have also announced plans to reopen in recent days. You can find a comprehensive map showing which resorts are open, partially open, and closed in the Pyrenees mountains on the Franceinfo website HERE.

One such resort was Ax 3 Domaines, located in Ariège, which closed after only being operational for the first three weeks of the season. The resort said it would be gradually reopening from January 17th.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ax 3 Domaines (@ax3domaines)

Two other resorts in the Haute-Garonne announced they would be reopening this week: Luchon-Superbagnères and Mourtis. The former began reopening to the public on January 18th.

Similar to the Alps, several resorts have announced plans for partial reopening. One example is the Monts d’Olmes resort, which said it would begin by first opening its eight beginner slopes.

As for the other Pyrenees ski resorts that were partially open, like those of the N’Py group, such as Peyragudes, Piau, Grand Tourmalet, Luz, Cauterets, they were preparing to fully reopen during the weekend of January 21st and 22nd.

Where should I prioritise to ensure slopes are open and have enough snow cover?

According to French daily Le Figaro, which published its guide for where to ski in 2023, certain resorts stood out for typically having sufficient snowfall for skiing. They based these results on average snowfall since 2021 and altitude, and recommended Val-Thorens and Tignes in the Alps, as well as Cauterets in the Pyrenees. 

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