Sunrise at Saas Fee this morning, now with 1800m vertical open!
Hello - there's been more snow, there's going to be more snow, and Europe's in the freezer for the next week at least...
And don't forget - UK visitors - that our awesome competition (see below) has just 2 more days to run...
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Saas Fee Opens Top to Bottom Ski run with 1800m of vertical.
- First ski areas open in Scotland for 17-18 season.
- Up to 60cm of snowfall in the Alps last weekend, more forecast this week.
- Snowbird opens then closes again.
- Ischgl opens for the season with 100 miles of piste skiable on opening day.
The run up to the main ski season continues to look good in much of the northern hemisphere and as we enter December many ski resort operators have everything crossed that this will continue. The Alps have seen four successive weekends of snowfall and next week should see more.
This coming weekend sees a mass of cold air bringing more snow, as well as the low temperatures needed for snowmaking.
More and more ski areas are opening for the season and even ski areas in Scotland have been open, whilst some resorts in Scandinavia have posted big snowfalls too.
Across the Atlantic its currently a more mixed picture. After roller-coaster temperatures in the east there has been significant snow in the past few days in states like Vermont and New Hampshire, and there had been more big snowfalls in the West too, but there has also been some high humidity which has caused resorts in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico to delay opening whilst Snowbird opened for thanksgiving last week then had to close again at the weekend.
In the Forecast
It's currently cold in The Alps, and temperatures will remain noticeably below average (for late November!) for the next week at least. Snow is forecast for many areas, with moderate falls in a few places, but generally light snow across a wide area and to low altitude. Snow should fall in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites alike.
Further out (over a week ahead), the forecast models are very undecided, with a few recent runs seeing a return to average temperatures (for December) but other scenarios hinting at some very interesting possibilities. Fingers crossed, and more on that next week...
OPENING TIMES SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
Some of the early openings are partial and temporary, and may be weekends only - so check with the tourist office!
Always check local conditions and resort opening times directly before travelling!
See when and where it's going to snow...
Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text above this line, 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.
About 20 Austrian ski areas are already open daily for the season, with as many again opening last Saturday for the weekend; these numbers look set to double from Saturday. There's been more snow too, continuing the snowy autumn, with up to 40cm of new snow reported – as usual the higher the slopes the more the snow. The Dachstein glacier now has the deepest base in the country at 2.8m whilst Ischgl, which opened at the weekend, reported 160km (100 miles) of runs open on day one, the most in the world so far.
Conditions are claimed to be excellent in the French Alps but, unlike the other 'big three' Alpine ski nations, very few ski areas have opened so far so skiers and boarders are having to make do with enticing images and videos of "how things are looking before we open" being posted on social media by French resorts.
Val d'Isere did open at the weekend, joining Tignes and Val Thorens, although Chamonix decided not to open the Grands Montets ski area as planned as there wasn't enough snow. A few smaller centres have opened too, and three down in the Pyrenees. So how good are the conditions? Well resorts are posting bases in the 20-40cm bracket on lower slopes 60-100cm up top – so not bad. Temps are low enough for snowmaking, there was 50-10cm of fresh snow in the past few days and another 20-30cm is forecast for the rest of this week. Resorts opening this weekend include Avoriaz and Alpe d'Huez.
Dozens of ski areas are now open in Italy and like Austria some are initially open at weekends only, the first week in December should see the numbers head towards 100 centres operational. Early season conditions here too are pretty good and some significant snowfall is forecast in the Apennines and other areas towards the end of this week. Dolomiti Superski says it will have 490km of slopes open served by nearly 300 lifts as of this weekend, with Alta Badia among the swathe of new openings coming up there. Cervinia, with a 130cm snow depth on upper slopes, has the deepest base in the country. It has 15km of runs open.
Swiss areas have claimed the biggest snowfalls in Europe since the weekend with Gstaad reporting 60cm last Sunday/Monday followed by another 20cm on Tuesday/Wednesday. It is also looking promising for snow down to 600 metres altitude this weekend. Open resort numbers are similar to Austria and Italy with about two dozen areas now operating and a similar additional number open last weekend. Again these numbers look set to double next weekend. Engelberg is posting the country's deepest base to date at 2.5m up on the glacier. Saas Fee has opened its full 1,800m of vertical descent from top to bottom – thanks to its high altitude ski area (1800-3600m) and Zermatt is claiming the biggest ski area open in the country with 70km of runs now open. That said, Samnaun in the far East is claiming 171km of open terrain – but much of that is linked over the border at Ischgl.
Conditions continue to look pretty good for this early in the season in Eastern Europe with more good snowfalls in the past week. Bulgaria's ski areas are not open yet but three centres in Slovenia – Vogel, Kranjska Gora and Krvavec have opened and are reporting bases of 20-40cm. Serbia's Kopaoinik, once a Crystal destination has also opened for the season as has Černá hora - Janské Lázně in the Czech Republic, posting a 50cm base.
There's been great excitement in Scotland as unusually consistent low temperatures and some good snowfalls have left all five Highland ski areas looking pretty good for the start of the season for as long as it lasts. Glencoe has in fact opened limited terrain to claim first in the Highlands to open although the small Lowther Hills Ski Club down in the south of the country managed to open first at the weekend. The other four Highland areas all look like they could open imminently but have not yet committed to doing so (at time of writing!).
Stop Press :- We believe Cairngorm will have one run open, top-to-bottom, today but check before travelling!
Half a dozen ski areas are now open in the Pyrenees on the French and Spanish sides of the border. Cauterets in France was one of the latest to open and ski areas in Andorra are set to open this coming weekend. There's not been much fresh snow recently after good falls earlier in November, and bases are hard packed, but remain not bad at all for the start of the season – typically in the 30-60cm bracket. In addition Sierra Nevada in southern Spain is also open now.
Anyone watching the skiing at Ruka at the weekend will have seen the athletes battling with fresh falling snow, whilst the end-of-week biathlon World Cup opener in Sweden's Ostersund has more of a low temperature challenge for competitors. The region has certainly seen some good snowfalls over the past week and dozens of areas are now open across Finland, Norway and Sweden with Voss Myrkdalen posting a 1.8m base already.
Canadian ski areas are open from East to West Coasts now with Tremblant the latest big name area to open in Quebec. In the west after the latest big snowfalls a week ago there was something of a blip with warmer temperatures and high humidity leading to 'Springlike' snow conditions, but it is now heading back to normal and some more big snowfalls have been reported with Big White posting 23cm in 24 hours on Wednesday. A lot of western areas are posting 1m+ bases already which is good when you consider its not yet quite December. Lake Louise is posting a 139cm base, Whistler just a little less at 136cm. Plenty more snow in the forecast.
As with Canada, a mixture of condition in the US. The East posted some of the best snowfalls just a few days ago with up to 50cm falling on slopes in Vermont. The Midwest is also continuing to look good with areas there reporting how happy they are to get an early start to the season. However it's the West that's having a bit of a roller cosaster with resorts ion Montana, Utah And coloradoi being forced to delay opening after temperatures leapt above 50F/10C. As mentioned above Snowbird in Utah, which opened a week ago, had to close again at the weekend because of it. Temperatures are now going in the right direction but snowbird is yet to announce when it will re-open.