snow alps
While much of Europe has been basking in the warm afterglow of summer, winter has arrived unexpectedly early in the Alps in this year of freakish weather. Thanks to two giant snowstorms, the tills are already ringing merrily in some ski resorts, more than a month ahead of schedule.

Yesterday Verbier in Switzerland was able to open a handful of slopes for ardent skiers in what is believed to be the earliest start to the season. More than three metres of snow has fallen in parts of the southern Swiss Alps and northern Italian Alps this week.

More than 60cm fell in Verbier. "The Indian summer has ended and [given] way to winter," Téléverbier, the ski lift company, said.