Sunshine and Snow in La Clusaz this morning, seen from the top of Beauregard...
J2Ski Snow Report 8th March 2018
Big snows in Western USA and parts of The Alps.
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Huge snowfalls in California; some resorts get 1.8m (six feet) in 48 hours.
- Fresh snowfall in the Western Alps.
- 'Beast From The East' closes some Scottish ski areas for a while but brings fresh snow.
- North America overtakes Europe for world's deepest snow base.
It has been a snowy week in Europe and North America with lots of fresh snow in the Alps and some huge snowfalls in Western North America, setting the region up nicely for some sunny spring skiing. The Western Alps have seen the most snowfall with the biggest accumulations in the south, along the French/Italian border.
Closer to home, Scottish ski slopes have built their deepest base of the season so far thanks to the 'Beast from the East' weather system which did close access roads to more easterly centres like Glenshee and brought strong winds but has also brought lots of fresh snow ahead of the Easter holidays.
There have been big snowstorms in both East and West North America, the latter seeing over two metres (six feet) of fresh snow in the last seven days. That meant avalanche closures and other issues in the short term but also now means it should be a great Spring skiing season after a slow 2017-18 season to date.
Mount Baker, now with a 622cm base, has also overtaken Engelberg (615cm base) to claim the 'deepest-base-in-the-world-at-present' title which the Swiss resorts had held all season to date.
In the Alpine Forecast
Un-settled weather is expected for much of the next week, particularly in the West of The Alps. There will be snow at higher altitude, but temperatures will rise after the weekend, with rain likely at lower altitudes.
Looking further ahead into next week, things should cool off again, with more precipitation probable.
Avalanche and Off-Piste Risk
There have been a number of fatal avalanches in the past week, and the off-piste risk level is currently extremely complex; varying substantially from slope to slope. With milder temperatures forecast, and rain at times, this will remain the case for a while yet.
As always, take local advice before leaving marked runs; have fun but stay safe!
Snow expected in the Chamonix Valley this weekend... find out where else...
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It has been a snowy start to the week in Austria, although so far the snowfall has been quite light with resorts only reporting 5-20cm of fresh snow over the past few days. With some Austrian ski centres only having a month of the season left, March conditions could hardly be better with deep snow bases on the mountain's upper runs and still good top-to-bottom coverage for almost all. Up on the glaciers where the season will continue to May or June (possibly even July) at some the bases are exceptional at more than 4 metres for most and nearly 6 metres (20 feet) on the Kaunertal glacier.
Ski areas in the French Alps have had a snowy week with Tignes and Val d'Isere issuing powder alarms on Saturday morning for 20cm of snow overnight. The fresh snow was of course very welcome as it always is but the timing wasn't ideal for Saturday change-over day with chains obligatory to some resorts.
The week is continuing with a mixture of sunshine and snow showers with the Grand Massif region reporting 16cm yesterday. The heaviest have been in the southern French Alps but coverage has widened to pretty much the whole country. Snow depths remain good across almost all areas with most having 3-4 metres lying at altitude so it's looking good for Easter 2018 in the French Alps.
Western Italy, particularly the Piemonte region, saw the heaviest snow in Europe in the middle of last week with up to 80cm of fresh snow falling. The resort here now has a 4m base – one of the deepest in Italy and indeed all of Europe.
It has stayed snowy in the Italian Alps ever since, although the snow has not been so heavy. The snowfall has also continued over to the Dolomites where there have been small accumulations – Arabba posting 10cm of fresh yesterday. Temperatures in Italy remain below zero with not a lot more snow forecast but there are signs of it getting snowier again towards the weekend.
Switzerland has actually been just about the snowiest spot of the past 24 hours with up to 20cm (8 inches) of fresh snow reported. The Portes du Soleil region in the west has seen the biggest falls with Kandersteg also reporting 20cm in 24 hours yesterday. Generally conditions remain excellent across the country, particularly on higher slopes, with almost all runs open and lifts operating at every Swiss ski area.
As mentioned above the country has finally lost its 'deepest base in the world at present' title to Mt Baker on the US Pacific coast. Engelberg, which has held it almost all winter until the weekend, says its base has dropped 5cm to "just" 615cm (20.5 feet) despite getting another 8cm of snowfall this week.
The winter weather last week in Britain brought heavy snow to Eastern Scotland leading to road closures around Glenshee and The Lecht and some of the biggest snow drifts in some years. It has continued to be fairly windy and snowy through this week with temperatures staying low, resulting in great skiing conditions once the wind has eased. All five centres are more or less fully open.
Conditions continue to look good in the Pyrenees as we enter spring. In Andorra there's around 1.5m of snow lying on lower slopes and another metre up top so almost all runs are open and nearly all lifts operating. The February snowfall has eased off but there have been a few centimetres of fresh in the past few days.
There's not been much fresh snow reported in Scandinavia this week, and there's not much in the forecast either BUT there is plenty of snow and temperatures are typically 5-10 below zero (C) so on-slope conditions remain excellent, resorts report. The deepest snow remains in Western Norway where several areas have more than 3m/10 feet lying.
It's sunny and a little too warm in parts of Eastern Europe with temperatures up to 7C in Bulgaria at times, but there is some fresh snow in the forecast over the next 48 hours as temperatures dip, just a few inches. Nearly every ski run is open and almost all lifts are operating in the region.
Western Canada continues to look good with deep bases built and fresh snow falling. Big White in BC posted another 25cm at the weekend and most resorts in the region (including Whistler Blackcomb) now have at least 3 metre bases with some passing the 4m mark (including Grouse and Cypress mountains on the West Coast). Massif du Sud, a ski area in Quebec in the east, seems to be going against the North American trend and is reporting a 504cm base, the deepest on the Eastern side of the continent by some distance.
It's been quite a dramatic week of weather in the US with both East and West coast ski areas reporting some big storms.
In the East, where ski areas have been suffering from rather too warm conditions, the storm brought heavy snow to some areas in New York State, Maine and Vermont which had been fearing rain, so was very welcome. It has caused other issues such as widespread power outages but the snow is the welcome bit.
On the West Coast there has been by far the biggest snowstorm of the season, bringing over two metres of snow in the past 7 days to some centres. Much of this was concentrated in to 48 hours at the end of last week when some resorts received 1.8m (six feet) causing issues including in-bounds avalanches leading to closures at Mammoth and Squaw Valley. The snowfall also brought big accumulations across a wider swathe of western North America with big falls reported in states like Utah and Wyoming too. Now things are settling down it is looking good for spring skiing with bases passing the 3m/10 feet mark after a slow season up to now.