A heavy snowstorm has rolled in over the French Alps today dumping 20 to 40 cm of powder.

Temperatures all over France have plummeted this week thanks to a high pressure zone that descended from Scandinavia, Greenland, and the north Atlantic. This led to record cold temperatures in some cities, such as Orléans, where the thermometer hit -14°C.

By 12 p.m today, 30 to 50 cm had already fallen on several ski resorts. Combloux, Savoie-Grand Revard, and Montgenèvre all reported 50 cm of fresh powder. La Clusaz, Alpe du Grand Serre, and Puy St. Vincent reported 40 cm. 56 resorts in all have set off powder alarms, including Châtel, Vars, Le Grand Bornand, and Saint Véran, and Les 7 Laux.

This fresh layer of snow means that several stations are opening this weekend, even though the official opening wasn't for another week or so. In the Alps, Tignes, Les 2 Alpes, La Clusaz, Alpe d'Huez, and Aillons-Margériaz will all be open this weekend.

Total snow cover measures 200cm in the Gondrans sector of Montgenèvre, 150 cm in Isola 2000 and the Vars snowpark, and 125 cm in the centre of Les 2 Alpes.

Many cross-country destinations, such as les Saisies, Autrans, Bessans, and Le Revard are also opening portions of their trails.

The cold weather is expected to continue in France through the weekend, with below-zero temperatures through Saturday.