What caused this incredible amount of snow?
First storm Dillon, and then Eleanor, battered the UK with Arctic air fuelled weather systems and caused havoc with our domestic infrastructure. The weather systems that rocked the home countries impacted much of Europe at a similar time, including the Alps. The ferocious and fast-moving storms brought on gusts of over 200kph in some resorts, causing many to suspend lift operations.
However, whilst these systems alone are enough to bring a healthy amount of snowfall they will often pass over the Alps with great speed. The excessive amounts of snow that the Alps have experienced at the start of this season were caused by a rare localised weather phenomenon, retour d’est.
For European powder hunters in the know, a mention of retour d’est sends an excited shiver down the spine. But what is this meteorological magic, and how does it work? How can only certain areas of the Alps be affected?
Introducing the retour d’est
Translated from French, retour d’est literally means return from the east. In short, retour d’est is an easterly weather front that causes intense and sustained period of precipitation around the border between France and Italy.