This Week’s Headlines:
- Up to 50cm of fresh snow in the Alps and Dolomites, Italy does well again, Austria got some but needs more.
- Healthy base at Sochi ahead of the Olympics.
- California continues to suffer drought conditions.
- Good snowfalls in Norway.
It has been a snowy week in many of the world’s key skis areas with the Southern Alps, Dolomites and Rockies doing particularly well, but there’s also been a healthy snowfall in the northern Alps and Western Scandinavia and a bit more in the Pyrenees.
Conditions in France are excellent but Italy seems to be nosing ahead as the snowiest of the big four nations at present reporting the world’s deepest snowbase and a greater proportion of resorts with deeper snow (over 2m on upper slopes) than in the other ‘big four’ ski nations.
Along with more snow needing at lower resorts in Austria (although they got some in the past few days), California has on-going drought conditions and Eastern Europe is generally not looking good fort snow cover unfortunately, especially Bulgaria.
Alps and Olympics
J2Ski reports that heavy snow has nearly doubled base depths in Sochi (pictured above this week) from what they were a week ago and with the Games three weeks away it’s definitely looking good as far as snow cover is concerned. There’s now around 1.2m (four feet) lying.
Austrian snow depths are still languishing at the bottom of the Alpine snowfall league but there has been some good news in the past 48 hours with fresh snow across most of the country – if not quite as much fresh snow as in the rest of the Alps. This means that although the country’s largest area, the Skiwelt, still reports a lacklustre 20-40cm base, it did get 10cm of new snow overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday which the Arlberg got 15—20cm bolstering its 25-100cm base. The biggest snowfalls were as usual reported at higher elevations however, with around a foot each for the Pitztal and Solden glaciers, which have the country’s deepest snow at 265 and 225cm respectively. Obergurgl (180m) and Obertauern (140cm) are also looking good but most other Austrian resorts have less than a metre lying on upper slopes.
The past few days have brought good snow news to most of the French Alps with many resorts reporting 20-30cm of new snow by Tuesday/Wednesday with wonderful conditions by midweek as the sun came out again on slopes lying deep and crisp and even with fresh snow. Overall this makes for an increasingly good picture on French slopes with most resorts reporting base depths of at least a metre and in the case of many higher resorts including Avoriaz, Alpe d’Huez, Val Thorens, Flaine and Les 2 Alpes – almost two metres. Among those reporting bigger falls with 20cm in 24 hours to Tuesday were Le Grave, Megeve, Morzine, Puy St Vincent and Risoul. Flaine, Les Saisies, Pra Loup and Les 2 Alpes reported 25cm and Chamrousse 30cm in the same period.
It has been another good week for ski areas right across Italy with most areas receiving at least a foot (30cm) of new snow and some as much as double that. The latest wave of snowfall across the country first started to build bases on Sunday/Monday and by Tuesday accumulations were reported to have reached 20cm of fresh in the Milky Way, 25cm at Courmayeur and as much as 50cm at Breuil Cervinia. Moving west there was 20cm of new snow for Bormio and Sella Nevea over on the border with Slovenia had 50cm of fresh snow. Other big 24 hour accumulations included 30cm for Madonna di Campiglio and 40cm at Macugnaga. Madesimo is now reporting the deepest snow in the world for a non-glacier resort at 3.8m, Passo Tonale has 4.2m.
We don’t usually include Liechtenstein in our weekly round up, but then it doesn’t usually have a powder day with 20cm of new snow in 24 hours like it did on Tuesday at its one alpine resort, Malbun, where Princess Diana learned to ski 30 years ago, after escaping the media in Klosters.
Swiss resorts have had their share too of the recent snowfalls with Andermatt, which has the country’s deepest snow base at 350cm, adding 10% of that tally with another 35cm (14 inches) in recent days. Most of the country’s ski areas now have relatively healthy bases, the lowest is in French speaking parts around Villars, Leysin and les Diablerets which report 20-80cm bases, but the vast majority are past the metre mark. Big winners from the recent snowfalls include 20cm for Davos Klosters and a foot each for Engelberg and for the newly linked (just about) Arosa and Lenzerheide.
There has not been a lot of snow in the Pyrenees this past week but conditions remain largely good. Both of Andorra’s large ski area conglomerates say they’ve had 5-10cm of snow in the past week, much of it on Tuesday, and they now have around a metre at resort level and 1.8-1.98m at the top of the slopes.
There have been some of the biggest snowfalls of the winter so far in Scandinavia over the past seven days, with Trysil in Norway reporting a whole foot (30cm) of fresh snow, much of it in the past 24 hours. Other resorts have had 10-20cm of new snow with Hemsedal’s base up to 80-110cm.
Conditions remain fairly desperate in Eastern Europe according to J2Ski.com with little fresh snow for more than a month now and what’s left on the slopes fairly tired. That said, at the leading resorts, snowmaking efforts have at least ensured there is some top-to-bottom skiing still at most of the areas.
Scottish ski areas have enjoyed another relatively stable week for weather after the near two months of storms at the end of 2013. Snow cover at the eastern resorts of Glenshee and particularly the Lecht is limited but at cairngorm and on the west *Glencoe and Nevis range) conditions are described as excellent and the best they’ve been in January for some years.
Western Canada saw some big snowfalls over the weekend, allowing Mt Washington on Vancouver Island to open for the first time this season. Across the sea, Whistler made up for lost ground receiving nearly three feet of new snow, bases are now up towards 1.5m. It’s not all good news though, Cypress Mountain, closer to Vancouver, is warm and with little snow just as it was shortly before the 2010 Olympics at this time four years ago. Banff, Big White and kicking horse reported 30cm falls each over Saturday/Sunday and smaller but significant falls on other days too – conditions are now distinctly powdery.
Last week’s ‘Polar vortex’ in the US has passed in to memory and there’s been more snow in quite a few areas now that it has ‘warmed up!’ – to around freezing. The most snow was reported over the weekend and earlier this week and predominantly in the north and west of the country. In Utah Alta had a powder day with 25cm of fresh snow in 24 hours, for Jackson Hole in Wyoming it was a straight foot. JH now tops the snowfall depth table in the US with a 2.1m base after 60cm of snow in the past week. Resorts in Colorado have posted up to 80cm of snow in the past week – generally falling at the rate of 20-30cm a day, so powder heaven there, although the avalanche risk remains high off the patrolled areas. Things remain fairly desperate, compared to the norm in California however where Mammoth’s base is only 45-70cm with little or no new snow for a month or so now.