La Clusaz, France looking good this morning...
The good news is that it's still snowing somewhere...
The Snow Headlines - 12th March
- Ischgl to close from Saturday 14th March (Galtür, Kappl and See remain open), see ischgl.com for details.
- Italian ski resorts closed until at least April 3rd; many areas likely to stay closed until next season.
- Europe's deepest base passes the five-metre mark for the first time this season and overtakes North America's deepest.
- Big snowfalls in Bulgaria to start this week - up to 30cm in 24 hours reported.
- Ski areas in the Pyrenees post one of the biggest snowfalls of the season to date.
The coronavirus situation is developing hourly; please check your local health authority and government advice and stay safe!
That aside - the snow is still falling and conditions on the slopes are pretty good in most of the world's ski regions.
In Europe, there has been heavy snowfall for many areas, including regions that haven't had so much this year. The French Pyrenees reported up to a metre of snowfall at the end of last week, with plenty of snow (if not quite so much) in Andorra and Spain too.
Bulgarian resorts reported a foot of snow to start the week and up in Scandinavia, one centre has posted a five-metre base, the deepest on the continent at present (and in fact overtaking the deepest reported base in North America for the first time this year!). Finally, Scottish centres are still getting dumped on too – albeit with the usual mix of gales, sleet and rain at times too.
It's been a little quieter in North America and for a time a little too warm in the East where unfortunately rain was reported after the great snowfalls of the previous fortnight. It's been getting colder again now though. Further west there were more snowfalls in Alberta, BC, California, Colorado and Utah among other areas, keeping the good cover in the west nice and fresh.
In the Alpine Forecast
After a dip in temperatures over the next couple of days, with a little snow in places, clear and mild conditions look likely for the next week or so. Beyond that are some interesting possibilities for cold and we'll have more clarity on that next week.
A little more snow for the Alps...
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The weather in the Alps has been warming up in the past 24 hours or so, but the warm snap should be short-lived and comes after some good snowfalls over the past week. The snow has been falling heavily until very recently in fact with Ischgl, Solden and the Stubai glacier all reporting 20-30cm of fresh snow waiting for skiers and boarders as recently as Wednesday morning.
UPDATE - Ischgl has this morning announced that it will close from Saturday 12th March.
Ski areas in the French Pyrenees actually posted slightly bigger snowfalls, on the whole, than areas in the Alps over the past week – and it's the first time we've been able to say that this year – well except perhaps in late January when the Pyrenees got a little and the Alps got none.
Cauterets was among the big winners down in the French Pyrenees, with a 'transformative' 90cm (three-foot) snowfall.
It has kept snowing in the French Alps too though and La Plagne continues to post the deepest base in the country and, pretty much, in the Alps, with a 4.6m base on its higher runs and 29cm (nearly a foot) of fresh snow in the past few days. Other areas in the region report similar falls. For example, 25cm at Tignes and Chamonix.
It feels odd giving an Italian snow report with all ski areas closed as the country tries to slow the expansion of its coronavirus outbreak, but, for the record, there were some good snowfalls across much of the country last week. Ski areas in the Dolomites reported up to 90cm (three feet) of snow and in the Aosta Valley, seven-day snowfall totals passed the metre mark at La Thule. There was also snowfall in more southerly ski areas in Piedmont which had not had much snowfall since big falls in mid-December. They are however now, of course, all closed until at least early April.
Swiss ski centres have posted the most snow in the Alps over the past few days. In the 24 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday resorts including Arosa, Laax, Glacier 3000 at Gstaad and Verbier all posted 20-30cm accumulations.
Those are just the latest falls in another snowy week though which saw one area, Lotschetal, claim more than 1.6 metres of snowfall in the last seven days and the current 'deepest snow in Switzerland' title at 4.8 metres (16 feet). Other Swiss areas have had up to a metre of snow since this time last week too. So assuming there are no operational problems over the next month or so caused by 'the virus' – it's looking good the rest of the season at most Swiss areas in terms of snow cover.
A 30cm snowfall at Roldal in Norway on Wednesday morning took the reported base depth there to 5.4 metres, overtaking the 533cm deepest base in North America. It's the first time since December that a European resort has posted a deeper base than a North American one. It also reflects a snowfall trend across Scandinavia which has seen more snow dumped across the region over the past week – albeit far, far less than at Roldal.
Of the bigger, better-known resorts Hemsedal and Trysil are both fully open with around 1.5m snow depths, Are over in Sweden is also at near capacity but with a slightly lower base.
It's been one of the best weeks of 2020 so far in the Pyrenees with some big snowfalls going into last weekend. These were a real boost to the region which has suffered from long warm and dry periods so far this season, although for the bigger destination resorts that haven't been a big problem, as earlier falls in December, topped up in late January, provided enough cover to keep everything open. Only smaller, lower resorts have had problems. But the fresh cover has really bolstered bases and improved snow quality this week.
The avalanche danger did jump up to 'high' immediately after the falls as temperatures rose but have eased down somewhat now.
Scotland is in its usual cycle of gale-force winds, heavy snowfall and periods of rain and sleet as temperatures move up and down below freezing and Easterly and Westerly fronts do battle. The dominant feature of this winter (and most winters) – storms rolling in from the west – continues to mean Glencoe and Nevis Range on that side of the Highlands are continuing to get the heaviest snowfall, but also often the strongest winds, which can force lift closures. But, on balance, conditions remain among the best they've been in recent years, which means that most of the country's ski runs are open and all five centres operating.
It's continued to be a snowier spring than much of winter was in the Balkans and Pirin mountains with Bulgarian ski areas reporting up to 30cm (a foot) more snowfall to start the week after some good snowfalls last week too. The only problem with this snowy cycle (which promises another big dump later this week) is that temperatures tend to yoyo back up to well above freezing between falls, although there is a sweet spot when the snow is fresh but it is not too warm.
Canada's west saw snowfalls into last weekend (the Banff region reported another 30cm or so by Saturday), then after a brief dry, warm few days it is back to cold and snowy, with 10-30cm more snow reported in the past 48 hours or so for most ski areas in Alberta and BC. In the East, it, unfortunately, turned warm and wet at the start of this week but here too it has now got colder once more and reports of up to 25cm of fresh snow in 24 hours have been posted by ski areas in the region since Wednesday.
The US saw snowfall ease off a lot over the weekend and the bad news in the east was that temperatures rose so much that rain fell on the slopes here, rather spoiling the beautiful fresh base of snow dumped down over the previous fortnight.
The good news though is that it has now got colder in most areas with fresh snowfall for many, albeit heavier in the west. The past few days has seen resorts in Colorado post up to 35cm (14 inches) of new snowfall, with smaller falls in states like Utah and Wyoming. The deepest snow is still in Washington state in the Northwest but, as mentioned above, it has finally lost the title of 'world's deepest base' at Alpental ski area, at least at the time of writing, as the base there was 533cm against the 540cm at Roldal in Norway.
Stay safe and if, like us, you've had to change your plans - remember the mountains will still be there next winter...