Verbier reported 60cm of fresh this week...
J2Ski Snow Report 1st November 2018
Some huge snowfalls in Europe, with more to follow but milder weather following.
November 1st Snow Headlines
- Ski areas in the Alps report up to 175cm of snow in biggest October snowfall of century.
- Passo Stelvio summer ski area in Italy ends season early after 1.5m snowfall blocks access road.
- What's believed to be a record 9 ski areas open in the USA in October.
- Verbier announces partial opening (weekends only) from this Friday.
- Resorts opening this weekend include Bjorli in Norway and Sulden in Italy.
- Snow falls across Europe, from Portugal to Finland.
- Up to 40cm of fresh snow falls in 24 hours in Canada.
- Snow in the Pyrenees where one French resort announces it will open mid-November.
What a difference a week makes!
As forecast, an extremely active weather front moving down from the Arctic has brought a sudden dip in temperature after months of mostly hot weather in the Alps. The results have included torrential rain at lower altitudes, gale force winds and heavy snowfall.
Glaciers that were struggling to open terrain less than a week ago have received several feet of snow, in some cases as much as 1.8m (six feet) although most have had a still impressive 30-60cm so far, with the snow still falling at some.
More snow is forecast over the coming week with some areas expecting up to another metre to start November. However the big falls are up high – Bormio, for example, reports 1.8 metres fell at 3000 metres over three days but that this was rain down at resort level = 0cm of snow there.
It's not just the Alps either, ski areas from Portugal to Scotland and Scandinavia have been posting images of their slopes well covered, and the Pyrenees have done especially well it seems, with resorts reporting 20-40cm of snow there.
Across the Atlantic there's been more snow too with another 20-30cm in New England at the end of last week and more recently some 30-40cm snowfalls on the Western side of the continent. At least nine ski areas ended up opening in the US for the final weekend of October, a number not seen before in recent memory this early in the 'season'.
In the Alpine Forecast
The current snow will clear much of The Alps by the weekend, with milder, clearer weather to follow - although further significant snowfall is expected to the South; in the Aosta Valley in particular.
See where it's expected to snow this week...
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With all of Austria's eight glacier ski areas now open, along with Kitzbuhel, there are no additional new areas known to be planning to open this weekend, or indeed for a few weeks more until the mass of Austrian resorts begin to open from mid-November on, with Obergurgl and Obertauern likely to be among the first.
There has been fresh snow though; the glaciers have received 40-70cm of new snow so are now in much better shape, and more snow, if not such large amounts, is forecast through the rest of the week. Some ski areas are currently closed due to high winds and/or logistical issues caused by all the snow, but should be in great shape once the weather clears. In Kitzbuhel, which is coming up to its fourth weekend of operations already using snow saved from last season up on the Rasterkogel slopes, they're scheduled to open another front, with additional skiing on their main Hahnankamm mountain.
Ski areas in France missed most of the high altitude snowfalls in August and September but the past week has seen some big snowfalls at last; particularly welcomed by now-open Tignes which issued a 'powder alarm' for 20cm of new snow in 24 hours on Tuesday. Other French resorts planning to open from mid-late November or even December have been gleefully posting snowy images too although few are measuring accumulations as yet.
Italy's Passo Stelvio was one of the big winners – and losers - from the snowfall, reporting a metre falling over the weekend there and now one of the deepest bases in the world up to 3.5 metres. Unfortunately this has led the authorities who keep the road open in summer to decide to close it a week earlier than planned, leading to the premature closure of the ski area until next spring. An end of season ski festival had been planned there this weekend but that's now cancelled.
Currently open though are Val Senales and Cervinia providing access to the glacier ski area it shares with neighbouring Zermatt. There's been plenty of fresh snow at these two areas too. Another Italian area, Sulden, has announced it will open Thursday, November 1st, following all the snow there. Bormio has reported the biggest snowfall so far with 1.8m (six feet) of snowfall measured up top but at time of writing it's unclear if it will open early in the next few days or weeks as it has in passed years.
Switzerland's Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz has posted the second greatest snow accumulation since Saturday at 175cm – or a few inches less than six feet. Year-round Zermatt issued a powder alarm for 40cm of snow on Tuesday and Saas Fee (currently closed due to the snow) is also looking, well, snowy. More snow is expected here over the next few days. Up to five more Swiss ski areas look set to open this Saturday. So far confirmed are Andermatt, Engelberg and Verbier with Davos (which already has some cross country terrain open)) and Glacier 3000 near Gstaad looking like they might well but at time of writing yet to confirm.
It's looking 'mostly good' for ski areas in Scandinavia although, as far as we can ascertain, only Ruka in Lapland is open at present. Temperatures have been hovering below zero, snow cannons have been firing and there has been some fresh snow, just not a huge amount as yet. The first Norwegian ski area to confirm opening for the season, this weekend, is Bjorli.
It has been a snowy week in the Pyrenees and indeed the entire Iberian peninsula with Sierra Nevada down on Spain's south coast reporting over a foot of snow and even a big accumulation at Serra da Esterella, Portugal's only ski area.
Resorts in the Pyrenees though have posted 20-50cm accumulations and one French area, Porte Puymorens, has announced it will open in a fortnight on November 17th at the same time as Chamonix and Val Thorens are scheduled to start their seasons.
Some great snowy images from Scotland this week where it has been largely sub-zero since Sunday and what precipitation there has been has been falling as snow. Some freeriders have been hiking up to make first turns but as yet no areas have opened, although the Lecht, which has top-to-bottom snow coverage and now possesses an all weather snowmaking machine, has opened for Halloween before. Warmer, wet and windy weather is forecast in the Highlands this weekend so it's likely the current snow cover will be depleted.
There's been some more snow in higher slopes in Eastern Europe too but it seems there's little sign as yet of any opening for several more weeks.
Canada's season opening day is getting closer after ski areas in Western Alberta reported 40cm of fresh snow on Tuesday - it looks like it could be this weekend (but TBC). Nakiska, the closest ski area to Calgary, has 'tentatively' said they'll open the 3rd/4th November, this weekend, but at time of writing have still not decided either way. They may have done by the time you're reading this.
Otherwise Sunshine, Mt Norquay and Lake Louise all expect to open next week, as does Marmot Basin up near Jasper.
A remarkable nine US resorts were open last weekend, possibly a record for October, and with ski areas open from New Hampshire (Wildcat), Vermont (Mont Snow and Killington) and Maine (Sunday River) in the East to California on the West (Mt Rose) along with four resorts in Colorado (Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Wolf Creek) and Idaho in between. Several were making their earliest ever openings.
Most were relying primarily on snowmaking but it has kept dumping in the Rockies with Wolf Creek, the first in the continent to open more than a fortnight ago now, issuing a powder alarm on Wednesday for another 37cm (15 inches) of snowfall in the previous 24 hours on top of the metre or so its had already this month. There have been some good falls in New England too.
No more US ski areas are known to be planning to open this coming weekend at present, but Mammoth, Breckenridge and Keystone are lined up to open in just over a week's time.