St.Johann in Salzburg, Austria, looking pretty and ready to ski...
Heavy snow for the Alps (albeit with fluctuating temperatures - mostly cold!) and Japan, with more early openings announced.
The Snow Headlines - November 30th
- Still more big snowfalls in the Alps, up to a metre more up high, 50cm in valleys.
- Ski season underway in the French and Spanish Pyrenees, Andorra opens this weekend.
- World Cup ski racing continues in North America.
- Eastern Europe's 2023 season starts this weekend, Slovakia's Jasna among those opening.
- Dry autumn for northwestern US continues to delay opening of some areas.
- Avalanche danger level in the alps widely up to 3 on scale to 5, some see level 4 ("high").
Snow forecast for Europe, America and Japan - again!
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It's December and that means the start of meteorological wintertime across the northern hemisphere.
The good news is that it does look pretty wintery in much of Europe with one of the snowiest Novembers on record and it's heading that way in Japan too.
North America has seen sub-zero (Centigrade) temperatures in some areas at time, but full on winter still seems to be running a little late, still waiting for the kind of big early snowfalls we're used to... although there have been some moderate falls for most.
In any case, resorts are opening up on both sides of the Atlantic and after being still just in double figures at the end of last week, we're now into the hundreds and heading fast towards a thousand open now.
In north America there was a rush to open for the Thanksgiving holidays last weekend, even though those open didn't have much in the way of terrain.
In Europe the numbers of ski areas open aren't that much higher but the amount of terrain each offers is much greater, thanks to the snowy November here, with a growing number already posting 100km+ of slopes open.
It appears to be almost a dream start to the Austrian season with heavy snowfall down to valley floors since the weekend, leaving resorts almost apologising for posting hard-to-believe images of streets buried in deep snow in the final days of November.
The snow has been falling all week and is expected to continue through the weekend, although probably lighter than it has been through the coming weekend, with temperatures double-digits below freezing on mountain tops and only getting a few degrees above down in resort.
About 15 high altitude and glacier resorts are already open with several including Ischgl and Solden already posting more than 100km of slopes available. We'll hit at least 50 open this weekend. Saalbach is among those newly opened with the Arlberg region and Zell am See among those due to join from Saturday.
After just having Tignes and Val Thorens open in the French alps for the past fortnight (unexpectedly joined by Porte Puymorens in the Pyrenees last weekend), more big name French resorts are set to open for the first December weekend, including Alpe d'Huez, Chamonix, La Clusaz, Montgenevre and Le 2 Alpes among quite a few others.
Avoriaz says it will open a fortnight early, for weekends initially, due to all the snowfall.
We also saw Val Thorens open up much more terrain, 150km, to jump up the leader-board for most terrain open in the world at present, going head-to-head with Ischgl/Samnaun. Although with the size of the 3 Valleys, ultimately there can be only one winner!
Conditions have continued to be excellent for this point in the season in the French mountains with overnight lows in the -10s (C), daytime highs only just below freezing and plenty more snow falling.
A pretty good week in Italy too after some snowfall at the start of this week. Drier since but staying cold for most – cold enough for snowmaking to operate at full pelt in fact – and there's more snow forecast to end the week.
About a dozen Italian ski areas are open so far including big names like Cervinia, Cortina, Livigno and Madonna di Campiglio with those numbers set to more than double this coming weekend.
Several areas have more than 50km of slopes open now but Dolomiti Superski starts its opening from this weekend so a big jump in those totals is expected too. Val Gardena say they'll open early, this Saturday, with 50km of slopes, jumping to 180km from next Tuesday.
Switzerland currently has the most ski centres open in Europe, nearing 20, and here too it has been a cold and snowy end to November, so much so that some Swiss centres are already posting level 4 on the scale to 5 of avalanche danger.
In terms of changes from a week ago, all three areas at St Moritz are now open with a combined 150km of slopes, about the same as Samnaun-Ischgl has climbed up to over the last week since the season started there.
Zermatt-Cervinia, still posting the country's deepest snow at 2 metres, is expected to get up there soon too but so far has just reported 60km of slopes open.
The 23-24 ski season got underway in the Pyrenees at the weekend with snowfall at the end of last week allowing Spain's biggest area Baquira Beret to open about 25km of slopes and France's Porte Puymorens to open some terrain too.
It's been a cold week with snow showers since and the region's largest resort, Grandvalira, is expected to open this weekend, along with a dozen more French and Spanish centres. More snow showers are forecast through the coming weekend.
Scottish ski centres have seen sub-zero temperatures for much of the past week and occasional snow showers, so things are looking promising, although there's not been a significant snow fall to generate real excitement yet.
Glencoe has turned on its all-weather SnowFactory snowmaking machine to build a base for its toboggan run and plans to turn on its access-chairlift to reach high altitude snow for ski-tourers before the season starts from this weekend.
Remaining cold through the weekend with snow showers.
It's been another cold and snowy week up in Scandinavia as well where all of the region's larger resorts are now open including Are, Hemsedal, Trysil and Voss as well as Pyha, Levi and Ruka up in Lapland.
Some very low temperatures down in the -20s (C) have again been reported and daylight hours are rapidly diminishing.
So overall a positive picture with snow depths building, open terrain increasing and snow quality fabulous with those low temps.
Eastern Europe's season is expected to get underway this weekend with one of the region's largest centres, Slovakia's Jasna, expected to open. It and the wider region has had a snowy week with temperatures staying low and frequent snow showers and, as it already had plenty of snow on higher slopes, things are looking good for day one.
It's been snowing in more south-easterly ski nations like Bulgaria and Serbia but the season start is probably a week or two further away here.
It has been a mostly cold and largely sunny week again in Canada – the cold welcomed by skiers, the sunshine not so much.
It's over a week now since the last decent snowfall in the west and that was just 20-30cms when there's been precious little more so far this winter. So it's limited terrain at areas already open and snowmaking going full blast where systems are there.
Most of the big resorts have opened or will open over the next few weekends. Whistler Blackcomb has about 10% of its slopes open but Sunshine near Banff is approaching 30% of theirs and has the most in the country so far at 30km of runs.
It has been another fairly dry week across the US, with ski areas struggling to open more terrain. Most are managing to keep a few miles of slopes open, Breckenridge posting it was up to 200 acres, about 7% of its total area, open at the weekend.
Most major resorts are open now, with last weekend's Thanksgiving holiday a major incentive, only the northwest corner around Oregon has had very little snowfall so far. There have been very low temperatures and some snow showers in the northeast of the country.
There is snow on the forecast; nothing huge, but enough to improve conditions.