Word on the piste: Andrea attacks the Alps

If we thought we’d had it bad with the recent storms here in the UK, it was nothing compared to the mother of all storms, ‘Andrea’, which has been lashing the Alps over the past 24 hours.

Lift station at the top of Alpe d'Huez this morning, after the storm had passed.

Her name doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a storm capable of unleashing winds of up to 200 miles per hour and a metre of snow, bringing resorts to a standstill and enforcing a lockdown, but when you consider that the name Andrea is derived from the Greek word for ‘manliness’, ‘virility’ or ‘warrior’, it suddenly seems much more appropriate. I guess adding an ‘s’ makes it sound a bit more powerful, but perhaps I’m being sexist.

Anyway, I digress. Reports from the Alps tell of people being stranded in Zermatt after an avalanche blocked the road and rail links to and from the resort; of a 9pm curfew being put in place in Val d’Isere last night due to the extreme weather conditions; of lifts being closed, and avalanche danger ratings being set to 5 (the highest level).

Val d'Isere this morning. Photo: Kevin Harris

But all of this means yet more snow for the Alps which have already received extraordinary levels so far this season. Pictures of vehicles and even buildings buried by the snow show just how much there is out there, and it’s pretty impressive.

It all makes the storms that battered the UK look pretty small fry. But we do at least know how to name our storms. Perhaps the alpine meteorology PRs should have consulted their Scottish counterparts before plumping for the standard WMO moniker. After all, storms don’t come much more virile-sounding than ‘Hurricane Bawbag’. Perhaps ‘Hurricane les Bourses‘ would’ve been more fitting?



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