January 24, 2022

Snow and ice. Haute-Garonne and three other departments of the Pyrenees in orange vigilance

A machine from the Hautes-Pyrénées departmental council in full snow removal, Saturday November 27, 2021, in the Pays des Nestes, not far from the Haute-Garonne (© Department of Hautes-Pyrénées)

As the snow falls in large flakes on the Pyrénées, and that it is already playing tricks on motorists en route to Pas de la Casa at the level of l’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre (Ariège), Météo France has just switched, this Saturday November 27, 2021 at 4 p.m., eleven departments, including four in the Pyrenean massif, in orange vigilance for snow and ice: these are the Ariège, the Haute-Garonne, the Hautes-Pyrenees and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. The alert won’t go into effect until next night, at 6 a.m. on Sunday, when the bulk of the episode is expected.

“Special vigilance” for low and medium altitude

According to Météo France, although it “is not of an exceptional nature”, this type of event (…) requires particular vigilance, in particular for the low and medium mountains on the Pyrenees ”.

Currently, showers are circulating over the western Pyrenees giving snow from 400 or 500 meters, and holding the ground at 600 meters. “These showers are a little stronger in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques,” observes Météo France.

For its part, the Hautes-Pyrénées department is hard at work to clear snow in country of the Nestes.

From west to east of the chain

These showers, which mainly concern the west of the Pyrenees at the end of the afternoon, will gradually “reach the east of the chain during the evening to affect the whole massif and its piedmont during the night ”.

“The rain-snow limit is around 300/400 meters and a few centimeters are already expected from 400/500 meters”.

Meteo France

Rain-snow limit at 300 meters

Still according to Météo France, this precipitation should become “More continuous at the very end of the night from Sunday to Monday, which coincides with the start of orange vigilance ”, then persist“ in a lasting manner until Monday morning ”. An increase in precipitation is even expected “between Sunday evening and the middle of the night from Sunday to Monday”.

Over the entire period, the rain-snow limit is “around 400/500 meters or even only 300 m on the Ariège during the night from Sunday to Monday ”.

How much snow is expected?

Initially, the hourly intensities should be “generally weak”, of the order of 1 to 2 centimeters per hour, “but they will become more substantial Sunday evening and during the night from Sunday to Monday, reaching 2 to 4 centimeters per hour, or even temporarily 5 centimeters per hour ”.

Monday morning, at the end of the episode, Météo France forecasts significant cumulative amounts:

  • around 400 m, 1 to 3 cm locally 5 to 7cm on the Ariège.
  • around 600 m, 7 to 12 cm locally 15 cm or even 15 to 20 cm in the interior valleys of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées mountains.
  • between 800 and 1000 m, 20 to 30 cm or even up to 40 cm in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and the Hautes-Pyrénées.
  • in high mountains, up to 1 m or even a little more on the peaks of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Snow in sight in Foix and Saint-Gaudens, not in Toulouse

For his part, Christophe Dedieu, president of Météo Pyrénées, indicates Saturday afternoon on Toulouse news that it should be “terrible weather” in the mountains on Sunday, with “large quantities at 2000 meters”, but also and above all that it should snow at low altitude: “at 300 or 400 meters”, between the west and the center of the chain, especially on the side of Foix (Ariège), and the sector of Saint-Gaudens (Haute-Garonne). As for Andorra, “a big north wind storm” is announced, with “gusts of over 160 km / h”.

According to a forecaster from Météo France in Toulouse, in terms of the Haute-Garonne, “The snow should concentrate on the Luchonnais and the Pyrenean foothills (especially in the areas of Aspet, Saint-Béat and Bagnères-de-Luchon)” with also “perhaps a few flakes on Saint-Gaudens”, but no snow in sight on Toulouse and its agglomeration.

These precipitations should weaken at the end of the night from Sunday to Monday, with a warming expected by the west. But a new episode is already announced for the middle of next week.

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