Temperatures have dropped in Europe and the snow is back across much of the continent. There have been significant new snowfalls in the Alps and, after two or three largely dry weeks, the Dolomites and Pyrenees are taking their turn too with big storms currently depositing up to 50cm and more at some resorts. In Northern Europe, Scottish ski areas which closed following a thaw last week are now re-opening and ski areas in Scandinavia receiving some new snow too.
In North America it is largely cold and dry in the main ski regions. The low temperatures are good news, but Colorado could still do with a few big dumps to get back to deep powder snow conditions.
View all 'where is the snow' pictures at our Recent Snowfall Gallery
Conditions are described as “simply perfect” in France by our colleagues at Skiinfo.fr. Since last Thursday, snowfall in the northern French Alps built up bases by 10 to 20cm per day with accumulations now nearing a metre. During the last five days for example 90cm of new snow has fallen at Valmorel, 76cm at La Rosière 1850, 74cm above La Clusaz and 62cm in Flaine and Val Thorens.
The snowfall is continuing and the off-piste avalanche risk is high. Average snow depth is now just 2cm less than 2 metres with the greatest upper slope depth at Chamonix (3m), La Clusaz (3m), Flaine (2.97m), La Rosière 1850 (2.85m) and Tignes and Val d’Isere (2.75m).
It’s a different picture in the southern French Alps where snow only began falling on Tuesday but 15 to 20cm is expected and average base depths are already 1.24m at the top of the ski areas with Isola 2000 among those boasting the deepest snowpack in the region with 1.56m, while Montgenèvre, Serre Chevalier and Praloup all report 1.5cm.
Winter is back. There’s been a second week of good snowfalls in Austria, which did better than all other countries in Europe last week.
Snowfalls of up to 55cm have been reported in the past week with the Molltal Glacier, one of the big winners, reporting 40cm fresh powder yesterday. The resort is now close to the 3m mark with a snow depth of 2.9m – the deepest in the country. Großglockner and Heiligenblut have also done well with a 30cm accumulation. Good conditions are also reported from Skiworld Brixental with 277km of open slopes and the popular resort of Ischgl is also in good shape with 1.5m snow depth and 216km of open slopes.
After several weeks with little fresh snow and sometimes warmer temperatures than we’d like, the snow is back big time in Italy, with the Dolomites benefitting in particular; Cortina (25cm-1.10m) is currently in the midst of a huge snowfall that has so far deposited 30cm of snow and we expect this to double over the coming days. Other resorts in the Dolomites including Cavalese (15-80cm) and Val Gardena (30-90cm) have been reporting sizable snowfalls too. As well as bringing powder conditions, its good news for lower slopes where cover had been getting thin.
There’s been less fresh snow reported so far to the west in the Italian Alps but bases were more substantial here already anyway due to earlier storms, and a few centimetres is all it takes to freshen up pistes. Livigno (45cm-1.79m) reported just that with 5cm of fresh snow on Monday while Courmayeur (75cm-1.65m) had a slightly more significant 15cm of new snow.
Swiss resorts did not get as much fresh powder as their Austrian neighbours over the past week but snow depths there remain among the greatest in Europe and indeed the entire world at present – beaten only by a few resorts in western USA. Andermatt reports 3.8m at higher altitudes and Engelberg is only slightly behind with 3.7m. Gstaad and Les Diablerets have 3.15m at the top. Most ski resorts in Switzerland received fresh snow around 10cm-20cm at the end of last week. It is snowing again at the moment in western parts of Switzerland from Geneva to Basel. In Verbier all slopes are open, skiers can use 177km in good conditions and a snow depth from 85cm-2.35m. Not all lines are open but a good offer with 154km slopes can be found in Laax where all snow parks are open as well.
Snow has arrived in the Pyrenees in the past 48 hours after more than a fortnight of dry weather. Baqueira Beret has seen the biggest falls in the region, and indeed Europe, on Monday reporting 65cm of new snow falling in 24 hours! Resorts in Andorra have so far received around 10cm of fresh snow and there’s perhaps double that still likely to fall over the next week. Snowbases range from 25cm at resort level to 80cm in Vallnord at Arcalis and slightly lower at 60cm on upper slopes in Grandvalira.
There’s not been too much snow in Eastern Europe but most resorts have seen a few centimetres to freshen up the hard packed surfaces. Pamporovo is optimistically claiming the deepest snow in the region with 1.8m on upper slopes, while the region’s most popular resort Bansko has a 25-70cm base. In Romania Poiana Brasov with 50cm on upper slopes has not reported any new snow for three weeks while in Slovenia Kranjska Gora hasn’t seen any snow in a week but expect a 50cm fall within the next week as the snow moves east, equalling its current base depth.
Unlike the Alps, the rate of snowfall in Scandinavia has slowed a little bit, but there has been some fresh snow and conditions are generally good with most areas fully open or thereabouts. In Finnish Lapland, Yllas has a 65cm base and Levi, after another 5cm of snow last Friday, 70cm. There’s been no new snow at Sweden’s top resort Are but almost every slope is still open with a 28-55cm base and in Norway it has been a dry week too although that’s not a problem with Hemsedal reporting a 75cm-1.05m base.
This time last week all five ski areas still open, but four out of the five resorts (all except Cairngorm) were forced to close by the weekend as the thaw continued. Conditions changed dramatically at the weekend and although there’s not been heavy snowfall so far, the snow is back and Nevis Range reopened earlier this week, followed by Glenshee on Tuesday. The Lecht and Glencoe were nearly there as we signed off this report and with the cold conditions due to continue, they seem likely to be open too by the weekend. Saying that a considerable amount of snow is needed to build bases up enough for areas to fully open.
There’s been heavier snowfall in Canada over the past week compared to the previous one with the biggest accumulations in the west of the country. Banff and Marmot Basin to the north, both in Alberta, each reported 42cm of new snow in the past week while over the border in BC Whistler and Kicking Horse reported 42cm (again) and 47cm of new snow respectively. Fernie, with 2.35m, has the deepest snow base in the country. On the east coast there have been small snowfall accumulations at Mont Sainte Anne and Tremblant – both have a healthy covering of 80-95cm deep snow on their slopes.
There’s been little fresh snowfall in most parts of the US although Alaska continues to be dumped on and Alyeska’s ported 80cm+ accumulation is, for the third week running, amongst the biggest reported sevenday snowfall in the world. It now reports nearly 3.5m lying on upper slopes, but that’s not the deepest in the country, as Mammoth, California, is on 4.9m after another 20cm of snow there at the end of last week. In the Rockies Colorado snow cover continues to lack that depth of floaty powder for which its famed, although Vail did report 13cm of new snow over the past week, but most of it falling in 2-3cm daily instalments like other resorts in the state. Utah to the north is starting to pull ahead with Snowbird reporting a 1.6m upper slope base compared to Vail’s 60cm or so. Little fresh snow on the east coast, but most areas there are good on-piste at least thanks to December accumulations. Stowe and Sugarbush both with more than 125cm on upper slopes.
The Coming Week
It should stay cold for the rest of the week at least in much of Europe and more significant snowfalls are expected across the continent.
In Austria the next main wave of fresh snow is expected towards the weekend with snowfall down to low elevations.
Over in north America we expect a fairly dry week in the west but potentially snowier conditions in the east where up to 25cm of fresh snow is expected.
View all 'where is the snow' pictures at our Recent Snowfall Gallery
Our next 'where is the snow in Europe and North America' report will be published Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013.