Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text up to "The Alps", is free to re-publish, but must be clearly credited to www.J2ski.com with text including "J2Ski Snow Report" linked to this page - thank you.
Snow Report Summary
Although it's still mild in The Alps, the snow keeps coming up across the Northern Hemisphere...
This Week's Headlines
- Major resorts opening on each side of the Atlantic.
- Heavy snow reported on mountains on each side of the Atlantic.
- Severe snow storms in Eastern US.
- Some resorts saying best November conditions for 15 years!
= Whistler and La Clusaz among areas opening this weekend(!), earlier than planned for season.
- Heavy snow in New Zealand as southern hemisphere summer draws near.
- Mass resort openings in the USA this weekend - up to 100 areas opening for Thanksgiving.
La Clusaz, 20th November 2014
It's a big weekend coming up with leading resorts on each side of the Atlantic opening for the season, and it's particularly good news this year because many are saying this is the best autumn for years in the Alps and the Rockies (although they would say that wouldn't they, believers in Murphy's Law say the early snow is a sign there'll be none when we need it in the winter!).
Big name resorts opening as planned this weekend include Vail and Val Thorens. Big name resorts opening earlier than planned include La Clusaz and Whistler.
The openings come at the end of a week which has seen repeated 'snow alarms' from open areas on both sides of the Atlantic, repeatedly reporting 20-40cm overnight accumulations. These added up to more than a metre of fresh snow by the end of last weekend in parts of Colorado, and similar build-ups in Europe.
However some resorts are sounding a note of caution against all the excitement bubbling over on social media with endless snowy pics being posted. They're pointing out the best of the snow is quite high - above 2000m in most cases - and that more snow is needed at lower elevations.
Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere, clearly not wishing to be left out although the start of summer there is only weeks away, we hear reports of heavy snowfall in New Zealand! All areas there are now closed, most of them for six weeks or more and so far none have announced plans to re-open, despite social media pleas.
In the forecast
Clear and mild in the North of the Alps for a few days... before cooling and, yes, more snow, as November draws to a close.
Austria has had the most areas open in Europe since the summer and now it's in double figures is just about hanging on to that title. The eight glacier areas have been joined by Obergurgl and Schrocken in recent days. Austrian areas have also been reporting the most snowfall in the last 48 hours, although that may in part be due to the fact that snowfall posts generally only come in from already open areas. But in the 24 hours ending Wednesday morning (19th Nov) glacier areas reporting more than 20cm of new snow included Kaunertal (25cm) and the Stubai (35cm).
After months of just Tignes being open in France (with a short appearance by Les 2 Alpes) the mass opening of the rest of the country's resorts kicks off this Saturday with Val Thorens, Europe's highest ski area, scheduled to open on Saturday, along with La Clusaz (at weekends only) which is opening earlier than planned. Other resorts will open over the next four weekends. It's snowing!
The start of the winter season 2014/15 is looking good as it has been snowing in the last weeks. Val Thorens is opening on Saturday 22nd November with 15 runs and 12 lifts. There is 40cm at 2,300m and 60cm at 3,200m. At Tignes all the runs and lifts on the glacier are open and there is now 60cm at 3,000m.
At Lake Annecy Ski Resorts, La Clusaz, the La Balme area opens this weekend 22 and 23 November from 9am-4pm with four lifts and the ski bus running. The resort's ski patrol director says it's the best snow conditions at the top at this time of year for 15 years.
Italian slopes are also looking fairly pristine. Pictures from the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale have shown the chairlift towers slowly getting buried by the metres of snow that have fallen there and now lie 3m/10 feet deep. Val Senales, which has a 2,5m upper slope base, reported the most snow in recent days 25cm by Tuesday morning. Similar falls have been reported in the Dolomiti Superski region which will begin opening in a week's time. Sulda and Cervinia are also both open and looking good...
Swiss slopes are looking good after more snow in recent days. Verbier reports more than 6,000 people have made their first turns of 2014-15 there since they opened a fortnight ago for weekends only. Saas Fee (with a 255cm base after more than 1.5m in recent weeks), Zermatt, Diavolezza (St Moritz), Davos, Engelberg and Glacier 3000 (Les Diablerets) are all open as well, although Crans Montana which was due to open last weekend has so far delayed doing so due to a thaw of its fresh snow. Andermatt is also open and reports one of the deepest snow bases in the world at the moment at 350cm. Adelboden is scheduled to be the next Swiss resort to open, this weekend.
There's been fresh snow In Scandinavia (as witnessed at last weekend's World Cup races in Levi, Finland) and more areas have been opening, although most only at weekends. Already open daily in Norway though are Kvitfjell near Lillehammer and Valdres. No resorts are known to be open yet in Sweden while Levi and Ruka remain the two centres open in Finland.
The biggest ski areas on the East and west coasty of Canada are both scheduled to open this weekend, both earlier than planned, by a few days. Tremblant in Quebec is calling conditions there 'exceptional' Whistler's opening will be five days early, "Our snowmaking team worked hard to take advantage of an early season cold snap in Whistler and had converted over 60 million gallons of water into snow prior to opening," says Doug MacFarlane, Director of Mountain Operations at Whistler Blackcomb. "Their efforts, combined with the natural snowfall we have already received at higher elevations, enabled us to get things rolling early again this year." The two heavyweights join areas in Alberta that opened last weekend including Lake Louise, Sunshine and Marmot Basin.
There are about 20 areas open in the US At the start of this week and that number looks set to multiply five fold over the coming week ahead of the key thanksgiving Holiday. Snowfall in Colorado eventually totalled more than a metre by the end of the weekend and there has been snow and/or cold snow making weather across much of the rest of the country too, with serious snowstorms in the north east causing serious travel disruption.
Remarkably the deepest snow so far is being reported in Minnesota (Wild Mountain, 1.65m) and north Carolina (Cataloochee, 115cm), but bases are building in Colorado (Breckenridge and others at around the two foot mark.
Recent big name resort openings include Mammoth in California and Brighton in Utah. Vail opens tomorrow (Friday 21st).