Started by Admin in Snow Forecasts and Snow Reports 16-Feb-2017
There's a lift in here somewhere... Mammoth this week
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Sunny skies in the Alps.
- Storm Brings Heavy Snow to Eastern North America
- All five Scottish ski areas open.
- Mammoth nears unprecedented 9m (30 feet) snow depth.
It has been a quieter week in the Alps with little fresh snow but generally good to excellent on-piste conditions, the only complaint for some is that it's a little too warm at lower elevations (below 1500m) in places at times, although generally it is dropping below freezing at night and snow cover is holding up. Above 1500m it is mostly just below freezing in the daytime too.
The week has been over-shadowed somewhat by avalanche tragedies in Tignes and elsewhere showing that, as the mayor of Tignes said, however experienced you are, there's no such thing as completely safe off piste skiing. The avalanche risk level has been at 2-4 (the highest level is 5) due to the warmer condition in many areas this week.
As always, take local advice before leaving the pistes, go equipped and - especially at the moment - make conservative route choices.
Elsewhere in the world the Scottish ski season has got underway properly at last with conditions in the East particularly good. Across the Atlantic Jackson Hole re-opened after five days storm closure and Mammoth mountain is posting ever more 'historic' snowfall totals. Monday also saw some big snow storms on the East side of the north American continent.
In the Forecast
It's looking like another generally mild and sunny week coming up for The Alps with temperatures a few degrees above average overall, but warmer to the East apart from a colder few days coming up this weekend.
There will be some light snow showers in many places over the next few days, and parts of Austria should see 10cm or so of fresh tomorrow - falling to quite low levels. There are some interesting possibilities in the long-range for Europe, and we'll have more on those next week... if they continue to develop!
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It has been perhaps the quietest week of 2017 so far in Austria with very little fresh snowfall. It is mostly sunny, and temperatures are a little warm in the daytime but dropping below freezing at night so not too much thawing. Generally, on piste conditions are good to excellent. Snow depths look fairly safe across the country, the deepest snow as usual on the country's glaciers (Kaunertal has the deepest at 2.6m) but even down in resort most areas have 1-3 feet (30-90cm) of snow on lower runs thanks to January snow storms. There's not much fresh snow in the forecast for the coming week – although many areas may see 10cm or so to freshen things up this weekend.
Unlike Austria, most ski areas in France have continued to see snow showers over the past week and indeed the last few days. The snowfall has been less regular, with some areas getting big falls, others less and on different days, but the Chamonix Valley has posted the biggest accumulation of the past week – about 35cm/14 inches. Many other areas have had 10-30cm though so pistes remain nice and fresh. Base depths are fairly healthy too – typically 1.5-2m at altitude and 50-100cm at the base. Morzine is still bottom of the stats for the major destination resorts after a challenging snowfall season with 30-50cm – that's much better than a month or two ago though.
Italy's Western resorts have seen some of the biggest snowfalls in Europe over the past week with Cervinia and Macunaga each reporting more than 50cm of new snow. Other Western areas have had 20-30m of new snow and there has been more in the snow-starved Dolomites, if not huge falls – 10cm in Cortina for example and the same in the Fassa Valley. Cover remains very challenging in the Dolomites but at least it's the healthiest it has been all season with 20-50cm bases. The deepest snow is in the West still with 40-200cm of snow at Pila. There's currently not much fresh snowfall expected in Italy over the week ahead.
Swiss ski areas have reported 5-30cm of fresh snow in the last week – most of it falling by the weekend. The biggest accumulations were reported at Grindelwald and Murren in the Jungfrau region, as well as at Verbier. Most Swiss ski areas have reasonable-to-good cover with typically 20-40cm of snow in resort and 1-1.5m on upper runs. A few have more snow up top and some less at resort level – Crans Montana says 0-180cm for example. Leysin report the thinnest base at present at 20-50cm whilst Gstaad says it has the deepest base in Europe on its upper slopes with 3.6m (12 feet). As with most of the Alps, little snow is currently expected in Switzerland over the week ahead.
Not much fresh snow in Scandinavia this past week. There's been nothing fresh reported in Lapland where bases remain around the 60cm/2 feet mark for the leading resorts. Most large areas have similar bases in Norway, but Hemsedal, the biggest area in the country, continues to struggle with only a 17cm base meticulously measured. It did at least get 8cm of fresh snow this week though and Geilo (50-75cm base) got 13cm/5 inches. Just a dusting of snow at Swedish resorts which again have 60-70cm bases, the norm across the region.
Conditions continue to be excellent in the Pyrenees following all the snowfall so far this year. The rate of fresh snow falling has slowed but it is still coming and on top of the established base conditions on piste are superb and there's still untracked terrain off piste if you have a local guide show you where. Bases in Andorra are generally in the 15cm-2m bracket making this one of the best winters in the region for some years.
No massive snowfalls in Eastern Europe over the past week but many areas have reported 5-10cm of new snow to freshen up cover and at most of the larger ski areas snow depths are very good thanks to earlier snow storms. Resorts in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic for example have 1m – 1.5m bases. The numbers are not quite so big in the Slovak Republic, Romania and Slovenia – more like 40-90cm.
All five of Scotland's ski areas were finally able to open some terrain together over the weekend. Cover is marginal still and only limited runs are open as although there has been some snow and temperatures have stayed low, there's not been enough to build a base. Unfortunately more warm weather is forecast for the end of the week.
Eastern Canada has seen some of the biggest snowfalls in the country in the past few days with 32cm at Mont ste Anne and 48cm at Tremblant. However these snowfalls came after similar and sometimes larger accumulations at the end of last week in the West of the country, Whister Blackcomb has had 73cm in the past seven days. Mont Ste Anne reports the deepest snow in Canada at 383cm, with Whistler in second place of the leading resorts with 255cm.
Very few ski areas in the world reached a 4 metre base by spring last year but this winter Mammoth Mountain in California says it has more than 5m lying in resort and nearly 9m (878cm) on its upper slopes – nearly 30 feet, an unprecedented figure. It is out on its own for snow depth anywhere in the world but some resorts have deep bases too which would seem amazing if it weren't for Mammoth over-shadowing them – Squaw's base is over 5m for example. California has had another few feet of snow this week after a brief lull. There have been big snowfalls in the Eastern US in the past few days too, resorts like Sugarloaf in Maine and Smugglers Notch in Vermont have had several feet of snow. Killington issued powder alarms for 30cm/a foot on two successive days this Monday and Tuesday.