Top 100 Snowiest Ski Areas Worldwide
It's Spring, but lots of snow above 2,000m - Les Arcs, France this morning
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Norway's Voss resort reports 20cm or more of fresh snow for each of 7 successive days.
- Base depth drops at Europe and North America's snowiest resorts.
- 90cm/3 feet of snow for Zugspitz glacier.
"Warm and wet" is the rather depressing message for the start of spring from ski areas from the Alps to BC in Canada and even Japan. Of course it is the start of spring, and widely varying temperatures and winds meant that last weekend's snow added little to base depths where it did fall.
Overall, it has been a relatively snowless week across the world, with very little new snow in North America (comparatively) since the big snowfalls in New England a week ago. That said, Voss, in Norway, still managed to report 140cm of new snow, falling evenly through the past week, to top the snowfall table, with Germany's Zugspitz glacier adding three feet (90cm) of snow in second place. Most other areas have had 30cm or less.
In the Forecast
The Spring rollercoaster is going to continue for the next week, with a bit of everything - weatherwise - thrown into the mix. A few locations (e.g. Zermatt) will see heavy snow at altitude today or tomorrow, with a snow line generally around 2,000m.
The Western Alps are going to be warm through this coming weekend, with lower temperatures to the East (albeit still above average). The beginning of next week sees a 10C drop in temperature, however, coinciding with a further band of precipitation which may bring snow briefly down to mid-altitude.
So, good Spring snow conditions (and deep bases) at high altitude and thinning, wet, snow down low.
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Austria didn't really get the snow it was forecast over the weekend and many skiers were complaining it was too warm on lower slopes for skiing and boarding to be a whole lot of fun. Just a few areas reported 10cm of snow, generally on Saturday, rather than the 30-50cm expected. The Kaprun glacier, with 90cm of snow on its lower slopes and 2m up top, reported the biggest accumulation of fresh snow – 20cm, so it's in pretty good shape for its spring season and the country's other glaciers also look pretty good – Kaunertal with the deepest base in the country at 3.4m. The lower slopes on some lower resorts in Austria are not looking quite so good though. More than half of Austrian areas now say they have less than 40cm on lower slopes and a growing number – including Ischgl and Mayrhofen, say there's nothing left in resort. A few like Igls and the Skiwelt don't have too much on upper runs either – 30-45cm. More snow is forecast later this week but it's looking patchy.
A similar picture in France, although here there was little snow forecast. It's has been warm, sunny and sometimes sticky at lower elevations, higher slopes are in better shape. But it's essentially 'spring skiing' across the board. Snow depths are looking slightly better than in Austria with only Chamonix and Vaujany saying they no longer have any snow at resort level, most areas have at least a foot still at the base of the slopes and over a metre higher up. The Chamonix Valley, Grand Massif, Valfrejus and Bonneval have the biggest numbers of 2.4-3m (8-10 feet) lying on upper runs.
Italy has some of the most promising snow forecasts for the end of this week with 30-60cm expected at altitude on Thursday/Friday at resorts in the west of the country. Snow is also expected in the Dolomites, just not so much and perhaps not so soon. Conditions continue to be best in the west with up to 2.23m of snow lying in the Aosta Valley whilst the Dolomites continue to rely on machine made snow to stay open and bases are much more marginal with most in the 10-50-cm bracket.
Swiss resorts have also been largely snowless for the past week with just a handful of resorts reporting 10-20cm of fresh snow. Gstaad, which last week posted the deepest snow in Europe by some distance at 4.9m was one of the few beneficiaries but despite reporting 20cm of fresh snow, a new measure of its upper slope base depth reveals its now down to 4m. Samnaun also claimed 20cm, Davos and Verbier 10cm and Zermatt 5cm. The number of Swiss resorts reporting now snow at resort level has grown with Adelboden and Jungfrau resorts Grindelwadl and Wengen joining Crans Montrana. Higher Swiss resorts are in a similar position to France with mostly good depths of 1m+, and in several cases 2-3m. Swiss areas are also amongst those expected to get the most fresh snow in the next few days and, possibly, next week. Up to 40cm is expected in the next few days at resorts including St Moritz and Murren with potentially more on higher slopes at Saas Fee and Zermatt.
No real respite for Scotland's ski areas – Cairngorm, Nevis range and Glencoe continue to offer very limited terrain when conditions allow and there are snow flurries at times, but there's really still not enough snow and windy conditions and thawing remains a problem, so barring some Easter miracle (and end of season conditions can be the best of the year in Scotland although usually a base needs to have built up first for that to be possible) , 16-17 is looking like the worst season this century.
It's just over a week since the last snowfalls in the Pyrenees but some big falls are currently being forecast here for the end of the week. 30-60cm of fresh snow is expected in the coming week and in the meantime cover remains fairly good with 1-2m of snow at most resorts in the region.
Norway has had the best of the snow in Europe and arguably the whole world this past week with several areas reporting more than a metre of fresh snow fall in the last seven days. The snow also fell in Sweden where base depths of around 80-100cm at ski areas like Are and Salen are amongst the best they've been all season. Base depths in Lapland remain good for the area at 70-80cm.
Most Eastern European ski areas continue to hold on to reasonable good snow cover for the start of spring, despite a lack of fresh snow. Bansko and Borovets in Bulgaria both have over 1m of snow on lower slopes and 1.5m up top, despite no fresh snow this week. The numbers are not quite so good for Pamporovo but it still has 75cm of snow depth. Some significant snowfall is expected over the next few days which is good news for Eastern Easter skiers (assuming it arrives as forecast).
Canada has in fact had quite a snowy week with many of the country's leading resorts reporting 30-50cm of fresh snow, but there have been complaints from skiers in resort that conditions have been too warm and a bit sticky. Base depths remain great across the country though with 310cm lying at Whistler and Mont Ste Anne in Quebec still claiming the country's deepest base at 464cm. Thanks to last weekend's snowfall, Whistler Blackcomb surpassed 10 metres of total snowfall since November 1. Last Saturday saw 25cm of fresh snow falling overnight taking the tally to 210cm so far this month. Temperatures are expected to cool in Canada heading into the weekend with lots of snow in the forecast once again.
An unusually snowless week, comparatively – in the US. At least since last Thursday when the last of Storm Stella finished dumping on the East Coast – Stowe reported 50cm, Killington 75cm on Wednesday-Thursday last week, but like most other US resorts, nothing since. There has been some snow, 13cm at Jackson Hole, 17cm at Alyeska in Alaska, but for most areas it's been zero fresh and warmer temperatures. There is expected to be a change back to wintry weather coming up though, with 10-30cm expected on the Eastern side of the country, 60-90cm in the West, over the coming week. Californian resorts continue to have the world's deepest snowbase with 5.9m at SquawValley and 8.3m at Mammoth.