Dawn breaking over a snowy Cervinia this morning...
J2Ski Snow Report 22nd November 2018
Snow falls all over Europe's mountains, and more is in the forecast for America.
November 22nd Snow Headlines
- Ischgl and Val Thorens promise 50km+ open terrain for opening days this week.
- BC ski season gets underway as Sun Peaks opens.
- Zermatt-Cervinia to have more than 90km of runs open this weekend.
- Arabba in the Dolomites reports 50cm of snow in 48 hours this week.
- More than 100 US ski areas to be open for Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend next week.
- Val d'Isere opening for preview weekend with 60cm base up top.
- Start of Scottish ski season imminent as all-weather snow-making systems start.
- Snow in the forecast for California.
Winter is getting closer and it's beginning to feel like it in most of the northern hemisphere's leading ski regions.
In Europe the snow has been falling since the start of this week in the Alps, Eastern Europe, Dolomites, Pyrenees, Scotland and Scandinavia – in fact almost everywhere.
Low temperatures have also allowed snow-making systems to operate 24 hours a day. The added good news is that so far the forecast is for more of the same over at least the coming week as we move towards the start of 'meteorological winter' a week on Saturday.
Snowfall totals over the past 72 hours have been up to 50cm, posted by Arabba in the Dolomites, although for most it is more like 10-30cm. 7 day totals by this time next week could reach a metre if forecasts are correct.
This weekend should see ever bigger areas of terrain skiable. Ischgl - opening on Thursday 22nd November - promises 50km of slopes will be open and Val Thorens, opening on Saturday, a similar amount. However the cross-border Cervinia-Zermatt area looks to be the one that will have the most terrain open with the resort saying there'll be 91km of runs open there. In recent years the Swiss-Italian giant has had the largest area open in Europe in the run up to Christmas.
Across the Atlantic the ski industry is building up to a key holiday weekend – Thanksgiving – which is always a good season starter if conditions are good. This winter looks better than last, across much of the continent, with great early conditions in the Rockies and on the East coast. It has been warmer on the
West Coast, in BC and California, but that is changing with snow forecast for the rest of this week.
See where it's expected to snow this week...
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After Austria's non-glacier resorts began opening last week; more of the bigger, higher resorts are due to start their seasons in the next few days with Ischgl and Obertauern due to kick off their 18-19 seasons.
Ischgl always makes a big event of its season opener, highlighting its November to May snow-sure ski season, and this year has announced at least 50km of runs will be open from opening day on Thursday, with a mixture of natural and machine-made snow. That's one of the biggest areas open in the world so far this (pre-)season and the biggest in Austria.
Of the Austrian resorts already open Obergurgl (which reported 20cm of fresh snow at the start of this week), Solden, the Stubai and Hintertux are all reporting 25-38km of runs so far open, although more may be opening this weekend. Solden's 180cm base on its glacier is the deepest in the country.
Mont Blanc this morning, as seen from Les Arcs
After cancelling plans for a preview weekend last weekend it's all systems go for the start of the season at Val Thorens, buoyed up by their fourth successive win of the 'World's Best Ski Resort' title at the World Ski Awards. Piste crews are reported to be working day and night to create a snow piste link between the snowline at around 2600m down to the resort at 2300m before Saturday's big opening. Val d'Isere has also announced it is opening for a preview weekend, and has a 60cm base above 3000m they say.
Also currently open are Chamonix (at weekends) and Tignes with a good many more resorts planning to open from 1st December in just over a week's time.
There are not a lot of ski areas open in Italy as yet but the country is able to claim a couple of snow records this week. The 91km of runs it will have open in the area shared with neighbouring Zermatt this weekend looks set to be the biggest in the world for the final weekend of November, and the 50cm of snowfall Arabba in the dolomites reported falling in 48 hours on Monday/Tuesday this week was the biggest accumulation of the past 7 days in Europe.
There were no new Swiss areas opening last weekend but the country is still posting some of the world's best snow depths (up to 3 metres/10 feet above Zermatt) and some of the biggest areas of terrain yet open, no more so than at Zermatt (again) where, as mentioned above, the shared area with Cervinia extends to more than 55 miles of open terrain at present – about double the nearest competitor.
Other resorts currently open include Davos, Engelberg, Glacier 3000 and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz. After Zermatt its neighbour Saas Fee has the most terrain open at about 35km.
There are now more than a dozen areas open in Scandinavia but so far most only have one or two trails operating on fairly thin bases. It's turned colder now though with some snowfall and snow-making machines running at full blast.
The Pyrenees and Sierras Nevada down on the south coast have been seeing some snowfalls too and it currently looks like these will continue through the coming week, good news for the main start of the season in the region for most areas on December 1st. Masella in the Spanish Pyrenees, which posted its earliest ever opening on November 1st, remains open with a 20-80cm base, surviving a warm spell in mid-November. It currently has about 15km of runs open.
Scotland too is seeing a return to cold, snowy weather after a warm first half of November melted the early hill snow covering from October. Colder temperatures are expected for the week ahead and Glencoe ski area has posted video of their new all—weather snow-making machine making a massive pile of snow, so it seems possible it could open some terrain in the next few days. The Lecht also has a similar machine and has said it will open at the start of December. Cairngorm is believed to have purchased one but it's unclear if it's on site yet.
Most of the leading ski areas in Eastern Europe have reported some good snowfalls in the past week. Both Bansko in Bulgaria and Kranjska Gora in Slovenia posted images of top-to-bottom snow-covered slopes and there was even first snow on some of Hungary's lower, smaller ski areas. There's no sign that any have opened as yet and as with the Pyrenees most resorts in the region look to be targeting Saturday 1st December as the initial opening day.
The ski season got underway in BC at the weekend with Sun Peaks joining the half dozen ski areas already open in Alberta. Western Canada, especially over on the coastal side of BC has had a warm November on the whole and Whistler, due to open next week, has only had about 30cm of pre-season snow so far. It may get as much again from a front due to hit over the next few days and temperatures are cold enough for snowmaking to go full blast 24 hours a day.
America's great start to the season continues with most of the country reporting great conditions for the time of year and the snow still falling. There are now far more areas open in the US alone than across all of Europe as dozens of resorts open ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday long weekend.
The one region that had been suffering was California where half a dozen resorts had opened with ribbons of white machine-made snow on green and brown mountainsides but that looks to be set to change with a huge snow storm expected to bring up to three feet of snow and dramatically transform conditions over the coming 72 hours. The snow should go right up to the Canadian border bringing snow to Washington state as well and continue inland to bring yet another big dump to the Rockies although more like 20-40cm is expected there.