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Snow Report Summary
For the third time in as many weeks, the weather's saving the interesting stuff for the weekend...
This Week's Headlines
- Nearly five feet of snow in seven days at Jackson Hole, the most in the world this week.
- Snow (and sleet and rain...) in the Alps.
- Scottish slopes battle with thaws and 100mph winds among snow showers (as usual).
- Big snowfalls in Western Canada.
- Austria sees best snow in the Alps in last week.
It has been snowing in most areas over the last week and on-piste conditions are generally now at least 'good' in virtually all of the world's major northern hemisphere ski destinations. Off piste the cover is more problematic in Europe with Western North America (as is often the case) the place to go for powder snow with resorts reporting up to four feet of fresh there in the last few days.
There's been less snow, and sadly some rain in the Alps compared to the previous week, but it has 'still snowed some' at most resorts with Austrian areas among the main beneficiaries this week.
The fresh snow in the Alps coupled with rapid temperature fluctuations and an already unstable (or non-existent) off-piste base - has led to significant avalanche danger in some areas. A tragic consequence has been a number of fatalities this week, including the deaths of two young American ski racers skiing off piste in Solden, the US team's European base resort.
In the forecast
Alpine weather continues the recent rollercoaster ride this week, with several days of significantly above average temperatures to be followed (on Sunday for most areas) by a plunge to very cold before turning mild again. The bright side is that there is snow forecast to coincide with the cold, and a strong chance of some major localized snowfall to low levels.
The fine detail is very difficult to predict at this point but, if you are travelling this weekend, you should pay attention to your local forecasts and be prepared for possible disruption.
Check the J2Ski Forecasts regularly for the latest updates.
Austria reported the biggest snowfalls in the Alps at the start of this week when the country managed to find itself in a good position as cool air met precipitation that had been falling as rain at higher elevations in France and Switzerland, meaning it fell as snow on lower Austrian slopes. The biggest accumulations occurred on Sunday/Monday when reports of up to 50cm in 24 hours came in (the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun), and many resorts reported at least 20cm in the same period. For Schladming, Obertauern and Flachau there was a foot of snow in the same period and Filzmoos reported 40cm, Saalbach 45cm.
As a result of this and earlier snowfalls Austrian conditions are much improved with many resorts, including those in the Skiwelt, now boasting more than a metre on upper slopes and at least 50cm at resort level. Mayrhofen which reported only 5cm of snow this week, has the least cover of a major Austriam resort at 30-50cm.
Conditions are OK but not yet great in most resorts in the French Alps. Most resorts now have 20 to 30cm at the base of their slopes and around a metre up top. There's not been much fresh snow in the last week, with the most reported in the Chamonix Valley (20m) and La Plagne (15cm), but some resorts also reported rain up to 2,000m for a short while, before sleet and snow showers followed. Some of the deepest snow is currently reported in the Maurienne Valley where Val Cenis has a 180cm base and Bonneval 130cm. More snow is expected over the coming week.
It's been another week with little new snow reported in Italy and, generally, it perhaps has the least snow of the big four Alpine nations. However snow depths on the mountain are generally not bad, the lack of fresh snow is most noticeable down at valley level where many areas report 10cm or less, for Madesimo it's only 1cm and Selva Gardena, 5cm. There has been some snow on the country's borders – 30cm more at Cervinia on the Swiss border and 15cm at La Thuile.
Temperatures have been low enough for snowmaking at most area meaning that most resorts are fully or nearly fully open. Most also have a comfortable 80cm or more lying on upper slopes, up to 3.5m at Passo Tonale.
The amount of snowfall in Switzerland last week was down on the previous year but still most resorts received between 5 and 25cm of new snow, freshening up pistes and in some cases providing a few days of off piste powder to enjoy. In most cases snow depths are good and on piste conditions good to excellent. Saas Fee, Zermatt, Engelberg and Davos all have among the deepest snow bases in Europe at 2-3m, although even here the village level cover of 10-20cm could be better. Cover is typically better in the East compared to the West, at Champery in the Portes du Soliel there's still only a 5-30cm base and Leysin isn't a lot better.
There's still good snow cover in Scandinavia, with Voss, which has the region's deepest base at 1.8m, receiving another 25cm of fresh snow in the last 24 hours. Most other Scandinavian areas have 50-1m bases and have had 5-25cm of fresh snow in the last seven days.
There's been little or no fresh snow in the Pyrenees in the past week and little is currently forecast but thanks to good December snowfalls depths remain largely good with most runs open and lifts operating at all centres. Given this, on-piste conditions are generally good, off-piste less so. Arinsal has a 40-60cm base, Pas de la Casa 50-120cm.
Things continue to look good at most Eastern European areas after falls of 10-30cm were reported across the region, much of it in the last 36 hours. Poiana Brasov's base is up to 90cm – better than it gets most season, after another 17cm of snow in the last few days whilst Borovets in Bulgaria has had 20cm and has an 80cm base. There's less new at Bansko but it has the deepest snow reported in the region at 105cm.
Very mixed conditions on Scottish slopes with ski areas in the west having some snow at the top and able to open when not too stormy. In the East there's not enough snow at Glenshee or The Lecht and there's limited cover at the top of Cairngorm. The big story for the current 72 hours however is very strong gales gusting to over 100mph on the peaks meaning even with snow areas can't open at present. More wintry weather is hoped for next week.
It's been a good week for Canada with some big snowfalls reported and although it's the Western resorts that have done best, there's been up to two feet of new snow in Quebec too. Revelstoke in BC has been one of the big winners reporting 60cm of snow in the past 24 hours, Whistler too has had big snowfalls and Big White reported 52cm in 24 hours alone on Tuesday/Wednesday. Sun Peaks, with 70cm in seven days, has marginally had the most snow, and the snowfall is expected to continue through the weekend. Mont Sainte Anne was the Quebec resort claiming 60cm of new snow this week and it also reports the deepest snowbase in the country at just over 2m, 10cm ahead of Big White on 1.9m.
Jackson Hole in Wyoming is really moving ahead of the rest of the ski areas in the US claiming 139cm (nearly five feet) of fresh snow in the last seven days – almost four times as much as the closest competitor (35cm at Big Sky, Montana), and it's base of 225cm in more than 25% more than second placed Snowbird in Utah on 160cm. In fact it has been a quiet week for snowfall in the US (apart from at Jackson Hole obviously) with only a few centimetres of fresh cover reported in the West, although bases there mean that's not a serious problem. Most of the new snow was reported in the East in fact with areas in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont getting 20-25cm of new snow which is good news for them after a late December thaw.