Started by Admin in Snow Forecasts and Snow Reports 01-Sep-2017
Deep snow under blue skies in Perisher, Australia
Top 100 Snowiest Ski Areas Worldwide
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Snow bases up to 3.4m in Southern Hemisphere, down to 3m in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Europe's glaciers suffer from the heat, summer ski area closes, others delay opening.
- Almost every ski lift and run open in Australia after snowy August.
- Nowhere to ski in France or North America for most of September.
- Heavy snow forecast in Australia and New Zealand for start of September.
August was a month of extremes for skiers in different parts of the world. It was high summer in Europe of course but this year's heat seems to have been more intense and the snow cover on the glaciers has been wiped off like never before in the modern ski era, causing several glaciers to end their summer skiing for the time being, and others to have limited cover remaining. This is despite several August snowfalls on high slopes.
More are due to open in September but at least one has already announced it will be delaying doing so until conditions improve.
On the other side of the world however, where it was mid-winter in August, it has been a different story. There has been some wild weather in New Zealand - with gales and floods as well as some huge snowfalls at some areas. Australian ski areas had a very snowy August and after a dry start to the month there were some big snowfalls in South America too.
Now we're entering September and the seasons turn once again. The southern hemisphere's ski season will be largely over by the end of the month and the northern hemisphere's 2017-18 ski season will just be beginning. It's going to be interesting to see how the autumn glacier ski season, which is due to really start from mid-September, goes this year. In the southern hemisphere however its looking like a good spring season due to the bases that have now built up.
September also marks the end of the Southern African ski season with the two small centres in Lesotho and south Africa both ending their 2017 seasons.
In the Forecast
Amusingly, as strange as it may seem, there is a little snow in the forecast for Europe! A couple of cool days this weekend, with precipitation, could briefly see localized snowfalls below 2,000 metres to a few places in the European Alps. Expect some very silly #winteriscoming pictures before it rapidly melts and warmer weather returns...
Always check local conditions and resort opening times directly before travelling!
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The hot weather in Europe in August really took out snow cover on glaciers in the Alps. The deepest bases remaining are at Saas Fee and Zermatt, which have 50-60cm of snow left on their high glaciers, and both should remain open through September.
In France there will be nowhere to ski in September as the last summer ski area still open, Les 2 Alpes, ends its 2017 season at the start of the month. Tignes is due to re-open in early October.
In Italy Passo Stelvio closed last month because of the thaw but re-opened some terrain and is scheduled to stay open through September. Cervinia is open the first few days of the month but will then close until mid-October.
Austria will see how September plays out. Only the year-round Hintertux glacier aims to be open all of September. The Molltal glacier originally planned to but is currently closed due to lack of snow remaining on its glacier. The country's other six glacier areas aim to open from mid-September although it remains to be seen if the summer heat prevents this or not.
Norway's Galdhoppigen is the only ski area still open in Scandinavia. Conditions are described as 'very good' with the base at 3m – the deepest in the northern hemisphere. Galdhoppigen will be open through September and may be joined by Geilo if the centre again uses stockpiled snow from last season and perhaps a bit of early snowmaking if temperatures drop low enough to create a ski run in September - something it has done for the past few years. Otherwise it will not be long until northerly ski areas start opening anyway.
The only ski area open in the last few weeks of August was the Timberline ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon which is reported to be in its best shape for several years after the big snowfalls there last winter. It has three lifts operating serving intermediate and advanced terrain on the snowfield, a terrain park and pipe. It's scheduled to close for maintenance after the start of September (the Labor Day holiday on Monday September 4th to be precise) though meaning there'll be no lift-served skiing in North America until high-altitude resorts in Colorado, most likely, start opening in October – subject to the weather.
Most Australian ski areas had a great August, one of the best on record in fact with two major multi-day snow storms plus low temperatures through most of the month. The result is that conditions are great across the country with nearly every lift running and every run open. It's the big-five ski areas that have the best of it – all posting based around the 1.5m mark – Buller, Perisher, Hotham, Thredbo and Falls Creek are all posting 1 to 1.5m bases. Mount Baw Baw and Selwyn Snowfield have less snow but are still fully open. Most Aussie areas close in late September but some including Perisher should stay open in to October. Forecasters are currently predicting 35-45cm of fresh snow across the country's ski slopes for the first weekend of September.
Ski areas in New Zealand are also posting healthy bases after some big August snow storms, including Mt Hutt, which reports a 3.4m base, the deepest in the world at present. Almost all the other ski centres in the country have 1 to 2 metre bases and are fully open. There's not been much snow for a week or so though so conditions are 'mixed' for the start of September.
Argentinian ski slopes are largely in great shape after significant snowfalls through August. Most now have bases of 1-2m and all, or almost all, lifts and runs are operating. Caviahue, which received a 40cm snowfall on August 24th has the country's deepest base at 2m. Bigger Las Lenas has a 1.5m base and all 14 of its 14 lifts operating and 27 of its 29 runs whilst Catedral, the biggest in the southern hemisphere, has a 1.2m base and is almost fully open.
Conditions are good as we enter the last month of the season in South America. There had been a bit of a snowfall lull at the start of August but some significant snowfalls in the middle of the month helped to bolster bases and all of the country's leading resorts have at least a metre of snow cover with Valle Nevado continuing to claim the deepest snow in South America at 2.9m. Temperatures have been staying well below freezing recently too, maintaining snow quality and integrity and it's snowing on many Kiwi ski slopes as we enter September, with up to 60cm, of new snow expected by the end of the first weekend of the month.