• Laurent Nodenot

Mountains: more accurate weather thanks to webcams

Have you ever connected to ski resort webcams to refine the weather forecast? They are your best allies in refining the sometimes contradictory weather forecasts. The summer and winter webcams, present in all the French massifs, are a valuable source of information.

An increasing number of webcams installed in the mountains

For the Northern French Alps alone, the Tourist Offices have 280 webcams, to which must be added 81 webcams for the Southern Alps, 15 webcams for the Jura, 15 webcams for the Massif Central, 23 webcams for the Pyrenees and finally 15 webcams for the Vosges. Thanks to these 429 webcams, you will have reliable visual information on sunshine and snow cover, even if the cameras in the resorts only update after a few minutes.

Not all webcams are created equal

More interesting and rarer, the webcams that broadcast their feeds in real time are to be preferred. We advise you to explore the web a little in search of webcams of holiday establishments. For example, this webcam located in Cordon (Haute-Savoie) displays continuous images of the Mont Blanc chain. This information is very valuable, as this mountain range is well known for its capricious and unstable weather. Other webcams offer text inlays, so the one in Combloux will tell you the names of the summits and point out the surrounding villages... You will have no more excuses when you try to locate Megève, Cordon or Saint-Gervais.

Location montagne, Le balcon du Mont-Blanc, Megeve Web Camera, Chalet de Luxe
This year, the first snow arrived in September: summer and winter suddenly met.

As hikers and skiers know, checking the weather before heading out into the mountains is an essential step

The ever-changing weather conditions in the mountains can quickly put you in danger. The weather is often different from one valley to another - even though they are so close as the crow flies. Local phenomena, such as altitude, strongly influence the climate. It is assumed that temperatures drop by 1°C for every 150 m of ascent. The altitude of the rain/snow line is constantly changing, so this weather phenomenon should be taken into account when planning your mountain trips. Checking a webcam will give you a quick indication of this and you can adapt your equipment accordingly.

The importance of specialised mountain weather websites

Choose specialised sites, because even if Évelyne Dhéliat lights up the weather on TF1 with her smile, you will surely need more complete forecasts for the mountains. Weather sites such as Romma, Moutain-forecast, Wepowder, Chamonix-meteo, give information that is as precise as it is localized. Some of these sites are not limited to the French summits, so you can also prepare your next trek in Nepal. You will find a large number of additional data such as radar images of precipitation, percentage of humidity, winds, snowfall... And sometimes even a connection to webcams. Many historical data can be consulted in order to get an idea of the climatic developments.

Have you noticed that, despite everything, the information does not always match up? You should know that there are many algorithms for modelling weather forecasts. For example, Apple‘s iPhone application “Weather” uses data from a free American model. While the “Arome”, “Aladin” and “Arpège” models are used by Météo France. This sometimes results in significant variations, especially in the mountains. This is why it is desirable to cross-reference the information provided by the American and French models. Thus, depending on the webcams, the wind direction, and the different weather forecasts, you will have the most relevant information for your mountain outings.

“Donkey that never stops yapping, rain the next day” or the weather forecast of the ancients

Webcams are good, but the ancients observed the mountains and understood natural phenomena much better than the artificial intelligence of weather algorithms. Did you know that the cloud in the shape of a “speed bump” that regularly covers Mont Blanc announces a change in weather within 48 hours? And when a second lenticular cloud - that's its meteorological name - also covers the Green Needle the phenomenon will be amplified. These clouds are a sure sign of heavy precipitation and encourage you not to go out in the mountains the following days. Listen to the sayings or the locals, they are full of wisdom and are rarely wrong.

In winter, take the time to find out about avalanche risks in addition to the weather forecast. And don't forget to check the weather conditions before you drive on the winding mountain roads. You may need to chain up before you reach your destination. Webcams are your most valuable allies in getting reliable information quickly!

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