The first full week of 2013 has seen less snow falling in most areas of Europe and North America compared to the last week of 2012. However snow has fallen in abundance in some places, the most reported in the Alps nearly 90cm in the past seven days, in North America almost 1.5m at one resort in Alaska.
Warm weather has caused problems at lower elevation resorts in Europe. Snow depths have gone backwards in parts of the Pyrenees and Eastern Europe and below 1,500m in the Alps, while four of Scotland’s five resorts have been forced to close since last week for lack of snow.
But the good news is that most of these areas are expecting colder temperatures and fresh snow by the weekend.
See our 'where is the snow' pictures here: Recent Snowfall Gallery
It’s been a great start to winter in the French Alps with resorts reporting business up by the end of the crucial Christmas and New Year holiday periods by between 10 and 25 percent, despite tough economic times across Western Europe. This was largely thanks to great December snow.
Conditions at the start of January are not quite as good due to the warm weather, but that’s due to change, and on the upside the runs are mostly empty.
In the Northern Alps, after light snowfall of Jan. 2-3, (10-15 cm), the sun came out for nearly a week making the snow wet and heavy at the end of the day. Snow depth here is little changed from last week, averaging 176-178cm (lower/upper slopes) but around 90 percent of runs are open throughout. The greatest snow depths are reported at Chamonix (340cm), La Clusaz (280cm), La Rosière 1850 (265cm) and Flaine (250cm).
In the Southern Alps, the snow got softer in late December, then froze hard, but is now being groomed back into good shape. One average, snow depth is 66-131cm (lower/upper slopes); around 88 percent of runs are open thoroughout; and ski conditions are very good or even excellent.
It has been a very snowy week for a lot Austrian resorts with Pitztal receiving 87cm of fresh snow and Flachau almost the same with 85cm. The Dachstein Glacier reported 50cm, St Anton 40cm and Solden 35cm for the week. The Pitztal Glacier still has the deepest snow in the country with 285cm on upper slopes, Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn has 230cm.
The snowiest day was Saturday, Jan. 5 when heavy snowfalls up to 40cm in 24 hours were reported. The snow depth at 10 resorts in Austria is now over 2m and another 17 leading ski areas have more than 1.5m.
It’s not all good news however. Although resorts with ski areas above 2,000m have enjoyed great conditions, those below 1,500m have been battling snow melt and warm weather conditions.
Another week with limited if any new snow in Italy, the biggest reported falls only 20cm. Some big differences are emerging now between upper slope depths and resort level depths – for example Cervinia, with some of the deepest snow in the country on upper slopes at 2.2m, has only 20cm down in resort, and is among a large number of Italian areas where lower slope base depths are below 50cm.
But significant snowfalls are expected later this week and many areas including big resorts like Courmayeur, Livigno and Sestriere in the Alps and Arabba in the Dolomites have at least 1.5m bases on upper slopes so are in good shape overall.
There has not been much new snow in Switzerland this past week but most of the resorts have such good bases that this is not a major concern and skiers there are enjoying the sunny days instead. Andermatt is closest to a four-metre-base with a 3.7m. Gstaad and Les Diablerets both have 3.1m. Engelberg and Lötschental are close behind with 2.9m and 2.8m of snow.
We’ve received good reviews from skiers in Zermatt who enjoyed sunny days and 1.95m on the upper slopes. Great conditions can also be found in St. Moritz where 23 lifts and 70 slopes are open. Snow depth is here 1.25m on the upper slopes.
There’s been no fresh snow in the Pyrenees since Jan. 1 and temperatures have been well above zero during the day time and then freezing over night, but groomed terrain is in good shape. Bases have dropped by about a third in Andorra however with around 30cm at resort level and 60-80cm at the top of the pistes. The deepest snow is at Arcalis in Vallnord.
The snow has returned to Scandinavia with 5cm yesterday at the biggest resort, Sweden’s Are where more than 80 percent of lifts and terrain are open and upper slope depth is 56cm. In Norway accumulations of up to 18cm have been reported in the past seven days and Hemsedal and Lillehammer both have bases of more than a metre. Up in Finland, the biggest resort, Levi, has had a good snowfall of 18cm in the past week and now has a 70cm base from top to bottom.
After a promising first month of the season the New Year has proved fairly disastrous for snow cover at Scotland’s five ski areas. Temperatures have been hitting 5 or 6 degrees above freezing on the slopes for the past week and as a result Glenshee, The Lecht and Glencoe have all closed and the remaining open terrain at Nevis Range and Cairngorm is increasingly limited to diminishing areas at the top of the slopes. The good news is that a return to colder temperatures with fresh snowfall is expected by the weekend.
More heavy snow in Western Canada has kept bases up around the 2m mark with beneficiaries of at least 30cm of new snow including Fernie (34cm), which got a lot of snow last week too, and Whistler (30cm). Fernie has the deepest snow in the country of a major resort at 2.22m. There's been more snow on the east coast too with Mont Sutton reporting 16cm in 24 hours on Sunday. Mont Sainte Anne and Tremblant both have 80cm bases.
Snowfall has slowed in most areas of the US over the past seven days after the generally snowy Christmas and New Year weeks. But the snow has continued falling none-the-less in most regions, gradually building bases, and in Alaska the snowfall has been exceptional, again with Alyeska’s report of nearly 1.5m of snow in the past week, nearly 60cm of that in the past 24 hours, the most reported anywhere in the world in the past seven days, again.
Further south there’s not been much new snow in California but the December accumulations have left the state’s ski areas with some of deepest snowbases in the world at present. Mammoth is top of the pile, with an upper slope base depth now only a few centimetres off 5m.
The Coming Week
In the Northern Alps it should remain sunny until Thursday but the weekend will bring snow to French and Swiss resorts. Austrian ski areas are expecting lower temperatures at the weekend and good snowfalls, even in the lower areas, and there should be more snow in Italy than in recent weeks too with at least 10-20cm at most resorts. Colder temperatures and more snow is expected in Scotland too.
The snow will continue falling in the USA with up to 30cm in Colorado, smaller snowfalls in California and Utah and over on the east coast 10-15cm in New England.
See our 'where is the snow' pictures here: Recent Snowfall Gallery.
Our next 'where is the snow in Europe and North America?' report will be published Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.