Grand Tourmalet, French Pyrenees, this week
J2Ski Snow Report 8th February 2018
Less snow in the Alps, for a change, but more elsewhere.
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Over 90cm of snow for Lake Louise this week, more forecast.
- Heavy snow in Colorado as conditions continue to pick up in the West.
- Porte Puymorens in the French Pyrenees reports 105cm of snow in 72 hours.
- Good conditions for the start of Olympic competition in South Korea on Saturday.
- Abetone in the Italian Apennine mountains of Tuscany reports a metre of snow in 24 hours.
A slightly unusual week for Europe in that there seems to have been good snowfalls in almost every area except the major resorts in the Alps - although some resorts here did report up to 30cm of snow just before the weekend.
Instead the snowfall focus has been on the Pyrenees, where some resorts have had over a metre of snow since Saturday, and on the Eastern Alps and Balkans, where snowfalls of up to 80cm were reported along the Austrian/Slovenian border, as well as in the Apennines of Tuscany in Italy where again one resort reported a metre of fresh snow. Some ski areas in Scandinavia have reported big snowfalls too.
In the Alps though it has been mostly dry, rather cold and quite often sunny which, after the massive snowfalls and the resulting logistical issues and extreme avalanche danger, is something of a relief.
In North America it has been the snowiest week for a while. It's continued to fall heavily in Western Canada and the US Northwest but heavy snow has also made it in to Colorado, where it is badly needed, as well as making a return to the East Coast with a big fresh fall in New York State and Vermont in particular.
For the Olympics in South Korea, although it's still a little early for a wholly reliable forecast, conditions look fairly good with consistent cover, mostly sub-zero temperatures and clear skies.
Read the full J2Ski Snow Report, covering Austria, France, the US and worldwide online.
In the Alpine Forecast
Generally cold and clear this week in the Alps, with a few scattered snow showers - increasing toward the middle of next week. The Pyrenees should see a bit more snow on top of their recent falls, easing through the weekend.
See when and where it's going to snow...
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Much of Austria has had a dry week with mostly sunny weather which, after all the January snow, boils down to fairly excellent conditions. There was some fresh snow at the end of last week though; the biggest accumulations, slightly unusually, in the far South East of the country in Carinthia where Bad Kleinkirchheim reported 60cm of fresh snow and Nassfeld 80cm. Base depths remain good across rest of the country's ski slopes, the deepest on the glaciers a very impressive 5.6m on Kaunertal and Dachstein – two of the biggest numbers in the world at present and not far off 20 feet. It looks like more sunshine day with cloudy periods in the week ahead with the first signs of heavier snow possible next week.
It's been one of those unusual weeks when there's been much more fresh snow in the French Pyrenees than the French Alps, the former receiving up to a metre of snowfall in 72 hours (see Pyrenees section) whilst ski areas in the French Alps got a few centimetres of fresh snow at the weekend at most. That's suited most skiers and boarders - and indeed the resort operators - though as with so much snow lying and the avalanche danger level dropping almost all runs are open across the region and conditions are very good indeed, so lots of happy skiers at present, even Saturday transfer day has been relatively painless for most. The only downside spotted really has been fog/low cloud at times in some areas including the 3 Valleys.
Italy has seen some interesting snow totals over the past week, getting some snow on the West in the Alps, some in the East in the Dolomites and some (the most in the fact) in the centre in the Apennines, where a metre of fresh snowfall was reported at the weekend. Mostly though conditions were dry, cold and often sunny with great conditions on the slopes thanks to all the January snowfalls and most of the country's lifts operating and runs open. Cervinia still has the country's deepest snow base, just shy of 4m up top.
Swiss ski areas have had a largely snowless week too, like the rest of the Western Alps, really just enjoying a period of calm and reducing avalanche danger levels (it's generally down to 2 out of 3 out of 5, from the previous maximum level a fortnight ago). There was some snowfall reported just before the weekend at areas including Verbier but mostly it has been dry and cold, the only real problems being occasional flat light or fog. Engelberg continues to post the world's deepest snow base – currently at 645cm (21.5 feet).
Bulgaria saw some quite good snowfalls of 10-20cm at the weekend. Bansko now has a 30-180cm base and has most of its runs open, as do the country's other major ski areas, even Vitosha which as just a 20-50cm base. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe most resorts are reporting similarly good conditions with most runs open and lifts operating and bases as deep as 2.8m at Kanin in Slovenia.
Scotland's 2017-18 ski season continues to be one of the best for several years, with skier numbers already past last season's total. There's not a lot of deep snow but there are consistent low temperatures and few of the stormy days that often plague the ski centres. All five Highland areas remain open and there's been a bit of fresh snow with a few more runs open compared to a week ago. Glencoe has the best conditions with a two foot base and all runs open. Nevis Range has just over half its runs open whilst over in the East the snowpack is much thinner and only limited numbers of runs are open at the three other areas.
It's been a great week in the Pyrenees for powder lovers with many resorts in the region reporting at least 50cm of fresh snow since the weekend and some as much as a metre. Resorts on the French side of the country posted the biggest accumulations, but ski areas in Andorra got up to 60cm of snow too and took to posting 'Pyrenean powder porn' on social media. There were good falls too, if not quite so much, further East on the Spanish side of the mountains. Base depths In the region are now nearing three metres (10 feet) at the snowiest resorts.
There were some good snowfalls in Scandinavia up to last weekend but it has been dry at most resorts since then. That's all set to change in the week ahead however with substantial snow forecast over the coming days with many areas in the west of the region seeing 10-20cm of fresh snow daily right through to the weekend if forecasts prove correct. Base depths are fairly healthy across the region and as deep as 2.5m at some areas in Western Norway.
Canada too has seen a lot of snow on both East and West coasts. Ski areas in the East were particularly pleased to see the heavy snowfall there at the start of this week, with Mont Sutton in Southern Quebec reporting 40m of fresh snow in 24 hours. It has not been the snowiest of seasons there until now so the snow was very welcome. Over in the West of the country the heavy snow that had been pounding the West coast resorts of BC over the past few weeks ventured in land to give powder conditions across BC and Alberta, Lake Louise reported 90m of fresh snow in the past week with another big dump expected over the next few days.
It has been snowy on both sides of the US in the past few days. The excitement was particularly palpable in Colorado where most resorts woke up to a foot or more of fresh snow on Tuesday, not something that has happened often this season. Until now only Steamboat had managed to open all its runs after one of the worst starts to the season in the famous ski state (as well as in California and Utah) for decades, but this fresh snow has perked things up a good deal. Similar snowfalls had been reported the day before in the East, particularly in Vermont and New York State – here it has been an above average season though with consistent snow cover since the autumn. But the Northwest of the country around Washington state, Oregon and Montana has stayed the snowiest with another metre of snow reported by some resorts in the area.