Mammoth Mountain got over 5 feet of snow this week... nice!
More snow in Europe, and heavy snow in the western USA.
The Snow Headlines - 5th December
- Zermatt claims the biggest ski area in the world open, so far, for 19-20 at 200km+
- Huge snowfalls in US West - Californian areas get up to 1.5 metres (5 feet).
- Up to 50cm of fresh snow in 48 hours in Norway.
- Ischgl opens for the season with more than 100 miles (169km) of slopes open.
The start of the main season is less than a fortnight away and things continue to look pretty good for most of Europe.
It has been snowing once again; heaviest in the southern and western Alps where up to 1.2 metres (4 feet) of snowfall has been reported since last week. But as more lower elevation resorts have opened, it's clear that the real deep accumulations are up above about 1800 metres and lower down the base depths are a lot less.
Heavy snow up high, of course, brings risk so please be careful away from the pistes; two off-piste skiers were killed in an avalanche near Courmayeur a few days ago and another slide damaged a lift at (yet to open) Serre Chevalier.
With hundreds of resorts now open the competition for December is who can open the most terrain. The leader so far appears to be Cervinia/Zermatt in Italy/Switzerland with more than 200km, followed by Ischgl/Samnaun in Austria/Switzerland with nearly 170km. In the Pyrenees, Spain's Baqueira Beret says it has more than 100km of terrain open.
Elsewhere in Europe, things continue to look pretty good in the Dolomites, Pyrenees and snowy Scandinavia with Eastern European areas due to start opening from this weekend. In Scotland alas, things have warmed up again but centres say they'll open anyway thanks to their all-weather snow-making systems.
Over in North America, the switch to snowy weather after the mostly dry November stepped up a notch with huge snowfalls in California (and fairly big ones further east in Colorado and Utah too). The rest of the continent's ski regions have mostly seen cold, snowy weather too, if not quite so much as the far West.
In the Alpine Forecast
Snow in the forecast for Scandinavia (and Japan, and France, etc.)...
After a mild few days across much of The Alps, temperatures will dip through this weekend and more snow is expected early next week; heaviest in the northern Alps where accumulations could be substantial.
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.
More than half of Austrian ski areas have now opened with Ischgl and St Anton among the big names joining the party last weekend.
Conditions are still good across the country but with more lower elevation areas opening and publishing their base depths it's apparent that whilst the country's glacier saw their depths jump two metres or more in November and are now sitting on 2-3 metre bases in most cases, there was much less snow down low (as you would expect so early) and here there's around 10-30cm on slopes at resort level and 50-90cm up high.
That's OK to start with so long as it stays cold and snowy over the next month or so. Ischgl has certainly made the most of their cover, opening with nearly 170km of piste open from day one.
More big French ski areas opened on Saturday with Avoriaz doing so, at weekends, a fortnight early. It – like most higher ski centres in France – is reporting excellent conditions for this early in the year and indeed the Portes du Soleil region was one of the snowiest of the past week with (yet to open) areas on the Swiss side reporting a total of 1.2 metres (four feet) more snow.
Val d'Isere also opened for the season.
A number of French resorts are now reporting base depths at more than 2 metres on upper slopes. They're mainly in the southern Alps and include Isola 2000, Montgenevre and (not yet open) Serre Chevalier, which also reported a chairlift damaged by a pre-season avalanche earlier this week.
Further north the base depths are still good, just not quite so big, although with more snow expected next week.
Italy is still posting the deepest base in the world by some distance with 4 metres of snow lying on the Presena Glacier in Trentino. It may also have the biggest ski area open in the world at present if you combine the Cervinia and Zermatt cross-border linked area to get more than 200km (125 miles) of runs open there already.
The snowfall, in common with most of the rest of Western Europe, has slowed since the weekend with the last marked accumulations in the Dolomites (50cm for Arabba), Lombardy (25cm at Colere) and Aosta Valley (another 15cm for Cervinia).
More and more Italian areas have been opening with many in the Dolomites starting their season last weekend.
Swiss slopes are in good shape too after all the November snowfall.
Andermatt's 3.2-metre upper slope base depth is the country's deepest and also one of the five deepest in the world. A more impressive stat though comes from Zermatt which reports 213km open, shared with Cervinia, as mentioned in the Italy section above. This is the biggest area open anywhere in the world at present.
The most recent Swiss snowfall has been in the Easterly Graubunden region with St Moritz and the Engadin area reporting 19cm of fresh snow on Monday to start the week.
Scandinavian ski areas are seeing a fairly cold and snowy start to the season and since the snow stopped falling in the alps at the start of the week most of the snowfall that has been reported since Monday has been here or a little further south in northeast Europe (Poland/Slovakia).
The region's largest ski centre at Are (Sweden) now has a nearly 70cm base (about double what it was a week ago) and Norway's Geilo has posted one of the biggest snowfalls in Europe so far this week – with 50cm falling since Sunday. Roldal beats it for 7-day total though, 72cm there.
All in all, it's looking good with more areas opening and those that are opening constantly adding more terrain.
Fairly steady weather in the Pyrenees this past week although a band of heavy snowfall was reported hitting the French side of the mountains on Wednesday evening. Bases are around 20-50cm in Andorra so more snow would be welcome there.
Over on the French and Spanish sides of the mountains, it's deeper and Baqueira Beret claims it already has more than 100km of slopes open.
It's the usual weather roller coaster on the Scottish hills with the mostly sub-zero November now a thing of memory and warm, wet fronts coming in off the Atlantic bring wet, windy +1-C weather to end this week. It is then supposed to get colder again at the weekend with snow in the forecast next week, let's just hope it stays cold.
All five areas in the Highlands are talking about their all-weather snow-making systems though, which make snow in internal containers even when it is well above freezing outside. Glenshee and Nevis range are the latest converts to this technology. Cairngorm says they'll have an opening weekend of festivities this coming weekend despite the conditions; their snow-making machine has been producing since October.
There are no areas of note open in eastern Europe as yet but that will be changing this coming weekend and the one after when leading resorts in the Czech and Slovak Republics, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria among other countries in the region are due to start opening.
Since the weekend there have been 20-30cm snowfalls reported in Slovakia so it's looking promising there. Bansko in Bulgaria, scheduled to open on December 14th, has no snow in resort as yet (it has had some but it has thawed) but reports 60cm lying on its upper slopes.
Canada is still way behind the US in terms of areas open but British Columbia has seen half a dozen of its leading areas open over the past week including the continent's biggest, Whistler Blackcomb. Currently, it doesn't have the biggest area open in North America, or even Canada, and possibly not BC as it has a thin snow cover and warm temperatures on its lower mountain.
Lake Louise in Albert, hundreds of miles inland, by contrast, saw -30C temperatures last week and has over 100 runs open compared to Whistler's current 10 or so. It will be hosting more World Cup racing this weekend after the first Men's Downhill and Super G races of 19-20 were staged there last weekend.
There's been a bit of a Transatlantic flip after North America's (mostly) dry November with some huge snowfalls reported over the Thanksgiving Weekend, particularly in California and Utah (Alta and snowbird did particularly well) where ski areas reported up to 1.7 metres (almost six feet) of snow.
This did cause some to close of course, due to access problems or buried lifts, but overall it's obviously great news for building bases at the start of the season. The 1.7-metre figure was also the most extreme with most areas just getting a mere foot or two of snow, enough to make a big difference but not to cause a big problem.
Almost all of the leading ski areas in the US have now opened for the season.
Until next week...