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.
Right, we're calling it! Today we (re)start our Weekly Snow Reports; exactly six months since the last weekly report. We'll be weekly now through to the other side of Easter.
Why? There's been some more early snow...
The view from 2800m above Ischgl today
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Ski areas in Cervinia and near St Moritz open this weekend.
- Snowmaking under way in Colorado.
- Ruka in Finland has opened this week, the first non-glacier ski area to open for 15-16.
- First Snow in California - is it the start of the strongest recorded El Nino?
- Southern Hemisphere ski areas extend seasons.
A third wave of serious snowfall in the past six weeks has been crossing the Alps this week. It's still too early to get (too) excited about this late summer/early autumn snowfall but it's difficult not to; Saas Fee, open since July, has clocked up three powder days already with big snow bases on the glacier.
To add to these positive signs (which may yet evaporate of course!) British newspapers have been forecasting severe snow this winter with a rather tenuous link to a strong El Nino forecast for the Pacific which should hopefully bring big snowfalls for the Western US. Whether that continues further East is more difficult to predict.
Elsewhere, ski areas in Scandinavia have started opening this week with temperatures dipping low enough for snowmaking whilst on the other side of the world most southern hemisphere ski areas have now closed, although a few still soldier on, having extended their seasons thanks to abundant snow.
In The Forecast
Snow has been falling in many Alpine areas over the past 24 hours, and is expected to continue for the next couple of days. The snow line should fall to 1500m in places, albeit briefly before rain rolls it back to 2000m or so. There will be useful accumulations above that level, nonetheless, and further snows are expected next week.
Austria is well ahead of the rest of the world in terms of ski areas open at present. All eight of the country's glaciers are currently operational (almost as much as the rest of the world put together) and they all appear to be in good shape, posting pictures of world champion skiers from around the world in autumn training on their slopes, running ski tests and Autumn Fest weekends and alternating between beautiful sunny autumn days and fresh powder mornings.
Most are expecting 30-40cm of fresh snow by the weekend following similar falls a week or so ago – and hoping it's the start of a cycle. Hintertux currently has the most terrain open and a 90cm base but Solden is gearing up to stage the first Northern Hemisphere World cup races of the season the weekend after next, then previewing the new Bond movie SPECTRE's filming venues, shot there last January, the week after that.
Tignes re-opened on 3rd October after a month with no lift-served French skiing available. It got off to a good start with a foot of fresh snow falling over its opening weekend – an unexpected powder bonus, and there's been more fresh snow this week meaning condition are quite 'wintery.' Around 20cm more on its current 50cm base is expected by Saturday. It has four lifts and four runs plus the terrain park open. A second option, Les 2 Alpes, opens for it's traditional 'end of October' nine day opening for ski tests and festivities on the glacier from next weekend before closing again after November 1st.
Italy has had two ski areas open for the past month but a third will join them this weekend. Cervinia will re-open its cross-border ski area shared with Zermatt in Switzerland this weekend. It joins Passo Stelvio which has been open all summer and Val Senales which re-opened last month.
More than a foot of snow (about 40cm in fact) is forecast to have fallen on Italian mountains by the end of the weekend. Passo Stelvio has all six lifts operating and a 2m base.
It's been a great start to the winter at Saas Fee which has had three big snowfalls since the start of September on its glacier. The latest, currently underway, is expected to mean 40cm more fresh snow there by the end of the weekend. It currently reports a 1m base and 25km of runs open, it's neighbour Zermatt is in similarly good shape. The Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz is also scheduled to open this weekend giving a third option and there are conflicting reports as to whether the Titlis glacier at Engelberg will be opening or not too.
It's a good start to the season in Northern Europe (which, lest we forget, also had a great autumn 2014 when the Alps suffered). Ruka in Finnish Lapland opened on Monday after starting snow making last week and aims to maintain its record of having the longest season of any non-glacier resort in the world – usually through to next May or June. Another Finnish resort Levi is also madly snowmaking and may open soon, although its priority is to prep the slopes for World Cup races due to be staged there next month. Elsewhere the Galdhoppigen summer ski centre in Norway is still open and a second of the country's areas, Geilo, is reported to have opened one slope at the end of September that's still reported to be operational. Icelandic ski areas have reported a good covering of natural snowfall.
Hopes of an El Nino year – some reports have claimed the strongest for 65 years/ever – bringing abundant snow to the Western US - remain in place after Mountain High received a covering of fresh snow last week and now hope to open by the end of the month.
It's a similar picture in Colorado although here the main hope lies in snowmaking at some of the world's highest ski areas like Copper Mountain and Loveland where snowmaking is underway and an October opening hoped for.
Mt Hood, usually the only ski area open in North America year round, has been closed for three months now as hot weather has serious impacted its permanent snow field, thawing it back to the ice below.
North of the border Lake Louise may be the first ski area to open on November 6th but if conditions are good other may try to open for Halloween in just over a fortnight's time.
And just in - Sunday River hope to open this coming Monday...
We're approaching the last fortnight of winter 2015 in the southern hemisphere with only Turoa ski area on New Zealand's Mt Ruapehu committing to staying open to the end of the month south of the equator after what has been an epic season for one reason or another in most major ski nations in Australasia and South America.
After a poor start Argentina and Chile saw some record breaking snow storms and Valle Nevado in Chile has extended its season by a week to next Sunday because, it says, of on-going snowfall and the best conditions for a decade. Some of New Zealand's ski areas also reported the most snow ever.