With the all roads to the Alps chock a block with cars over the New Year ski weekend many of our clients want to know what happened and why it all went so wrong. The problem seems to have been the coming together of a number of factors.
The Christmas week had been a disappointing one for snow in many resorts, but snow was forecast for 3am on the 27th December the (busiest change over day of the year) and thats exactly when it started to fall..............and boy did it fall, 1/2 metre fell in the valley and a full metre at altitude. Added to this the police and the road clearing crews didn't have any extra personnel on duty and too many of the toll booths on the Autoroutes were closed. The French Police quite rightly stopped people going up the mountain without winter tyres or snow chains, causing queues and stranded vehicles.The end result was that many of our clients spent the night in temporary accommodation and got to their destination on the following day. Without doubt things could have been handled better, however the amount of snow that fell within such a tight window of time was unprecedented. There were an estimated 29,000 cars and coaches stranded with as many as 2,000 people spending the night a Chambery airport, let alone all the other emergency shelters that were utilised.
To prevent similar scenes on the return weekend of 3rd January many operators took their departing guests to Chambery Geneva and Lyon in pre dawn transfers to try and beat the estimated departure of 36,000 cars and coaches. A difficult decision to make and no doubt some tired and grumpy guests were annoyed at such an early departure from resort. But with more snow forecast again that day the decision was taken to get clients away before an expected repeat of the weekend before. Hopefully the situation has been a lesson to all, and everyone will be better prepared should heavy snowfall be forecast on change over day again.