The Pyrenees is the big story of the past two weeks. With some of the biggest snowfalls in a decade, base depths in Andorra are up to 2.5m. There have been similar accumulations on the French and Spanish sides of the mountains, with Baqueira Beret reporting 2.4m of snow in four days towards the latter half of last week.
In the Alps and Dolomites it's been a week of snowy days mixed with sunny days, with some resorts managing to clock up 60cm, while most of North America has been fairly dry with only small accumulations reported.
For all our 'where is the snow' pics, go to: Recent Snowfall Gallery
It has been another snowy week in the French Alps with big snowfalls reported at Alpe d’Huez (60cm), Val d’Isere (30cm), Chatel (30cm) and Val Thorens (28cm) and base depths continue to look very impressive, for example 3.5m on upper runs in the Chamonix Valley and 320cm in the grand Massif above Flaine, which also reported another 31cm in the last seven days. Even where snowfalls have not been huge, they have in most cases added at least 15-20cm to snow levels and conditions on piste are excellent. There’s abundant fresh snow in many areas off piste too but beware that the avalanche danger levels are very high so only tackle safer areas with a guide.
Over the last week Austria hasn't seen any big accumulations. However a few centimetres from day to day has kept the slopes freshened up. Kitzbuhel (40-140cm) reported 10cm of powder on Monday, 52 lifts operating and all slopes open. Solden (20-207cm) got a couple of centimetres on Monday too on top of another 6cm over the weekend. Snow depth is now 209cm. Lech Zurs has a snow depth of 225cm, one of the greatest in the country, and 265km slopes are prepared for skiers. The best snow depth in the country can be found at the glacier resorts – the Molltal glacier has 290cm and the Pitztal 289cm.
There’s been snow across northern Italyin the last week, with the dolomites getting the better of it for the second successive week: another 50cm reported at Cortina d’Ampezzo (35-120cm) which was hosting World Cup races in a near blizzard on Sunday and 40cm at Arabba (74-165cm). Actual base depths are better in the Alps though, thanks to the heavy early season falls there, with Livigno on 186cm and Cervinia 200cm on upper slopes, both resorts received 15-20cm respectively of new snow in the past week. Passo Tonale’s glacier has the deepest snow base of the country’s major resorts however at 250cm, good news for its usual operation into June.
Snow conditions in the Swiss Alps are excellent. St Moritz got 30cm fresh powder on Monday following another 10cm on Sunday. Snow depth at the upper elevation there is now 125cm with 51 lifts operating and 259km slopes are open. Other leading resorts received around 5-10cm of fresh snow over the weekend including Zermatt (180cm), Saas Fee (211cm), Grindelwald (159cm) and Crans Montana (230cm). Good snowfalls were also reported in Andermatt with 35cm within 48 hours and the resort, which has boasted the deepest snow in Europe for most of the season, has now reached a snow depth of four metres.
Spectacular snowfall in the Pyrenees has continued into a second week with most resorts in Andorra reporting another 60cm of snow and similar accumulations in France and Spain too. This has caused logistical problems in the region and high avalanche danger but has also set the resorts up for the rest of the season. Vallnord has the deepest snow in Andorra with 240cm in its Arcalis sector, elsewhere in the principality snow depths are at least 1.5m and continuing to build.
There’s been a good fall of fresh snow in Bansko over the past seven days with a 20cm accumulation on upper slopes taking the snow depth to 100cm. The resort had the most snow in the country in the past week but Pamporovo still has the deeprst snow in Bulgaria at 180cm. In Romania Poiana Brasov’s upper slope depth is up to 70cm and Slovenia’s Kranjska Gora reports 25cm of new snow taking its base to 80cm.
Scottish ski areas missed out on the English and welsh snowfalls to some extent over the weekend but it is snowing now and temperatures have been cold enough for over a week of snowmaking. There have also been strong winds though bringing wind chill. The Lecht cancelled World Snow Day events planned for Sunday due to the snow blowing away. As always in Scotland the current situation is ‘fluid’ but all five areas are open if not stormbound as was Cairngorm on Monday or operating limited terrain as at Glencoe, Glenshee or Nevis Range.
“Norway has been dry for a long time, but it has remained cold and conditions in all major resorts have stayed great,” says or Skiinfo Norway office in Oslo. “Guests are enjoying pistes and parks in great shape and stable, sunny weather. Significant snow has fallen in the north, preparing for the ski touring season in Lofoten and Lyngen later on in winter, but major resorts in the south are expecting the clear weather to continue for a while more.” So snow depth stays at 100cm at Hemsedal. It’s a similar picture in Sweden although Are, with a 60cm base, reports a few centimetres in the past week. No new snow and similar snow depths around 60cm in Finnish Lapland at leading resorts including Levi.
A less snowy week in Canada although that’s not a problem at this time of year with good bases throughout. Unusually some of the largest falls were in the east with Tremblant (55-85cm) reporting 11cm of new snow. This was matched by Banff over in Albertas to the west but few other resorts have reported any new snow. Big White (200cm) and Red Mountain (210cm) have marginally the deepest snow of the major resorts in Canada but most other areas are only a few centimetres below that, so in other words “have plenty.” Whistler has a 181cm base.
It's been a fairly dry week in the US. Alyeska in Alaska has been posting huge metre-plus snowfalls each week since the new year but has dropped to a much more modest 33cm in the past seven days, although still the most for any major US resort. Resorts in Colorado and Utah have had little or no snow: Breckenridge, one of the world’s highest ski areas, has a 78cm hard packed surface, which typifies the position at Colorado resorts, and it reported 3cm of snow in the past week. Slightly bigger falls have been reported in New England, Sugarbush (35-112cm) in Vermont had another 15cm accumulation, Sunday River in Maine (76cm) another 13cm.
The Coming Week
It is getting colder over the coming days in the Alps and a combination of new snow and frost means the risk of avalanches is getting higher towards the middle and end of the week. Ski resorts are expecting light snowfalls with some sunny hours between although accumulations could be as much as 30cm in places.
It will keep snowing in the Pyrenees, although perhaps slowing down a little with another 30cm expected at most resorts by this time next week.
Cold weather and moderate-to-heavy snow showers are expected to continue in Scotland.
Over in North America there’s the best chance since the new year of some more significant snowfalls in the Rockies with at least 15-30cm of predicted powder for Colorado.
For all our 'where is the snow' pics, go to: Recent Snowfall Gallery
Our next 'Where is the snow in Europe and North America' report will be published Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.