This Week’s Headlines:
- Heavy snow back in Western North America – another week of big falls.
- After a snowy November, hardly any December snow in the Western Alps.
- Scandinavian ski areas receive healthy snowfalls.
- Thaw wipes out much of Scotland’s snow cover.
After the snowy November the weather has settled down a food deal in Europe over the first few weeks of December. The Eastern side of the Alps have seen the most snow in the past week on the whole with Austria and Eastern European destinations benefitting the most. It has also been dumping down in Scandinavia at last.
Across the Atlantic a fresh storm system brought another wave of heavy snow across most of the west of the continent with sizable accumulations of up to a foot in 24 hours reported by resorts in Colorado, Utah and California.
The roller coaster weather in Scotland continues. After a snowy weekend the temperature rocketed back up more than 10 degrees wiping out cover at most areas.
Austrian ski areas have been opening en masse over the past few weekends and most will be open by this Saturday morning. It’s a good start to the season too with the country getting the best of the latest fresh snowfalls of the big four Alpine nations at the weekend. The past few days have seen sunny skies and temperatures just above freezing. Kitzbuhel got 10m of snow in the recent falls and reports 75cm on the mountain tops but there’s only a few inches down at resort level. St Anton has similar numbers, but a slightly healthier resort base depth. Of the country’s glacier ski areas that have already been open for two months or more, Kaunertal is currently in the top three in the world for snow depth at more than 2.7m (nine feet)
With the exception of a few centimetres on the first of the month in the Alps and the Pyrenees, there’s been no snow reported in France so far in December. Fortunately the big falls in the latter half of September means that most areas which are already open, as well as the majority scheduled to open this coming weekend, are in good shape. The country’s glacier resorts are posting the deepest bases with Alpe d’Huez, Tignes and Les 2 Alpes all reporting at least 1.5m (five feet) on their upper slopes.
Most of Italy’s major resorts are now open and have healthy snow cover for this early in the season, but like the rest of central Europe there’s been little or no fresh snow reported since the start of December, only Madonna di Campiglio claimed a 10cm accumulation on December 2nd, 10 days ago. The Val Senales glacier, which has been open for nearly three months already this season, continues to report the deepest snow in Europe, and indeed the world, at present with 2.8m Elsewhere there’s reported to be 60cm (two feet) of snow at resort level at places like Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere in the Milky Way with a metre on upper slopes; 40 – 180cm at Cervinia for top to bottom skiing and 20-=80cm at Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites
Although there’s been little fresh snow in Switzerland either in the past week, resorts on the East side of the country dig get a few centimetres of fresh from the snowstorms in the eastern Alps at the weekend – with Davos Klosters posting the biggest snowfalls of 10cm. Most of the country’s leading resorts are now open and several have bases above 2m (nearly seven feet) on upper slopes including Andermatt, Saas Fee, Zermatt and Engelberg. Things are less good on the western side of the country. In Verbier, for example, about 20% of runs are open and snow depths are 25-75cm with no fresh snow since late November. But pistes remain in good shape although fresh snow would be welcome now.
There’s been no fresh snow in the Pyrenees but conditions there remain exceptionally good for this early in the season thanks to the big accumulations in the last week of November. Last weekend was a key holiday period at Baqueira Beret saw huge numbers take to the slopes. In Andorra snow depths remain up near six foot (1.7m) on upper slopes with most areas almost fully opening their terrain and snow depths down in resort at 40-80cm.
Things are continuing to improve in Scandinavia with more snow reported here in the past few days than almost anywhere else in Europe. Snow depths are typically around 30cm at resort level and nearer 60-90cm on the ski slopes, which isn’t bad for Scandinavian ski areas which do not get the base depths of the Alps or the Rockies normally. Voss reported 15m (six inches) at the weekend and now has a two foot (60cm) base. Are in Sweden got 5cm of fresh snow on Monday and has a 50cm base.
Eastern Europe has had a snowy weekend leaving things in good shape for the start of the season, which got underway at a few resorts last weekend but will follow at most either next weekend or the 21st, just in time for Christmas week. Spindleruv Mlyn, one of the leading Czech ski resorts posted one of the biggest accumulations of 20cm in 24 hour on Monday/Tuesday. There’s little real snow data available yet from Bulgaria but webcams are showing healthy looking snow cover at resorts there, especially Borovets.
After gales then snow at the end of last week which enabled Cairngorm to try for a limited opening at the weekend, Scotland was the warmest place in the UK by the middle of this week with temperatures up to double figures, obliterating most of the snow cover at all five centres. Temperatures are due to dip again but probably not until next week at least
It’s looking good on both the East and west sides of Canada, except… if you go so far west you’re in to the Pacific, the usually very snowy Mt Washington on Vancouver Island is one of the few resorts in the Northern Hemisphere to delay their season opening due to a shortage of the white stuff, highly unusual. But on the mainland there are no such problems with the snow falling regularly across Alberta and British Columbia and base depths a relatively healthy, typically 75 – 125cm on slopes across the region. Fernie reports 30cm of fresh snow in the past week. There have been some decent snowfalls on the East too with Stoneham near Quebec City claiming 25cm on 24 hours up to Tuesday morning..
It’s been another good week in the USA with substantial snowfalls on the Western side of the country and most ski areas opening in the East too thanks to snow or snowmaking or both. The biggest falls came at the weekend with Squaw Valley in California reporting a 20 inch/50cm accumulation, “The nearly two feet of snow that we’ve received has allowed us to open substantially more terrain, including the much-anticipated opening of the Squaw Creek chairlift today,” said Cara Whitley, chief marketing officer for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, adding cheerfully. “Further, the storm door looks to be opening with more snow expected next week, setting us up for an amazing holiday season at Squaw and Alpine.” Heavenly at the south end of Tahoe reported 60cm from the same system and further south there was 25cm in 24 hours at Mammoth. But resorts from Deer Valley in Utah to the north and Taos new Mexico to the south all reported good snowfalls too.