Winter Park, Colorado, gets more snow, opens more lifts... nice!
J2Ski Snow Report 29th November 2018
Big snows for Colorado, lighter snow and cooler weather elsewhere.
November 29th Snow Headlines
- Snow returns to the Alps.
- Heavy snowfall in Western USA (up to 105cm/3.5 feet) in 7 days in Colorado.
- Scottish ski season due to start on Saturday.
- Val Thorens cancels World Cup Ski Cross Opener due on 7/8 Dec due to lack of snow.
- Iranian ski areas report up to 50cm of November snowfall.
- Cervinia-Zermatt open more than 100 miles of pisted terrain already.
- 150km of slopes opening across Dolomiti Superski this weekend.
- Canadians expect 'El Niño' weather system to mean mild winter for west.
- New Zealand ski area to re-open for 'snow fun' on first day of summer after unseasonal fall.
There are somewhat mixed reports coming in to J2Ski Towers on current world snow conditions. Generally conditions seem good, considering we are still just in November. Most of the northern hemisphere's mountains are seeing cold weather and some healthy natural snowfalls on top of good snow-making weather.
Resorts in Spain have opened early for the season, ski areas in Austria have issued powder alarms and in Colorado Winter Park got more than two feet (60cm) of snow in 48 hours (as did several others) and 105cm in the last week.
It's not universal but it's a good start to the pre-season by most measures.
There's even news of a ski area in New Zealand deciding to re-open this Saturday (the first day of December and meteorological summer there) for summer snow fun.
In Scotland The Lecht has announced it will open on Saturday with some natural snowfall but also thanks to its new all-weather snowmaking machine. It's the first time a Scottish ski area has been able to announce a fixed opening date.
There are just a few small worries, perhaps normal for November. One is for Western Canada where the weather service has predicted a warmer winter due to a 'developing El Niño' weather system. Indeed Whistler had not had much pre-season snow but, having just opened, has had more than 50cm this week and further east Lake Louise successfully staged World Cup racing at the weekend and it looked snowy enough there. Crans Montana in Switzerland decided not to open for a planned preview weekend last weekend as "not enough snow" they said. It will open this weekend however, so hopefully these are short-lived 'blips'.
See where it's expected to snow this week...
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Austrian ski areas have seen some of the snowiest conditions this week with up to 30cm of fresh snowfall reported so far at Obertauern and plenty of 'winter wonderland' pictures posted on social media. Other resorts have had 5-20cm of snow so far this week, although Hintertux reports 25cm. Ischgl opened at the weekend with 63km of runs but Solden is currently posting the deepest snow base in the country at just over 180cm (six feet) lying up on the glacier and now 84km of trails open.
Fresh snow in the French Alps in recent days has helped to raise spirits there with Tignes reporting 20cm in 24 hours on Monday-Tuesday this week and Val Thorens posting plenty of snowy images online. More ski areas, including Val d'Isere, have opened or are opening but it's still a few weeks until some of the biggest get their seasonal operations started.
However Serre Chevalier is saying it will open for the next few weekends before opening daily from December 15th. Currently the resort, the largest in the southern Alps, has 80cm of snow at the top, 60cm at 2000m and 30cm down in the Valley. Villeneuve and Chantemerle sectors will be open this weekend with the Ratier and Aravet gondolas providing uplift.
Heavier snow is expected across France in the latter half of this week. It doesn't seem to be all good news though, despite having the highest base in Europe the FIS have announced Val Thorens have had to cancel their planned staging of the Ski Cross World Cup season opener (first stop of the 2018 Audi FIS Cross Alps Tour) due on 7/8 Dec due to a lack of adequate snow cover at resort level. Interestingly the FIS report on the cancellation notes that there's also low levels of water available for snow-making.
Cervinia is leading Europe at the moment with the biggest ski area open, with more than 160km (100 miles) of slopes operating, shared with Zermatt. It also has some of the most impressive snow stats ranging from 50cm on lower runs (Many glacier resorts have decent depths on their glaciers at present but little or nothing below) and 240cm up top – also one of the best stats anywhere as yet this early in the season.
Elsewhere there are now about a dozen Italian areas open, although some only at weekends, with Bardonecchia, Livigno and Madonna di Campiglio amongst the big names recently opened. Many more are scheduled to open from this weekend on as the Dolomiti Superski and other regions begin their seasons.
Big name areas including Cortina, Alta Badia, Val Gardena and Kronplatz are among nine opening in the Dolomiti Superski region with the largest single sector offering about 45km of runs.
The number of Swiss areas open has reached about 20 now, although somewhere between a third and a half of these are currently just opening at weekends. As mentioned in the Italy section, the shared Cervinia-Zermatt ski area is currently leading the world on both snow depth and terrain open. There's been some fresh snow in Switzerland this week, with Saas Fee and Adelboden reporting 10cm, Engelberg 15cm on the first few days of this week. More is forecast towards the end of this week and in to the weekend.
It has been a warmer November than skiers would like in much of Scandinavia but the temperature is now dipping well below zero and there's been a little natural snowfall and snow-making friendly temperatures. Not a whole lot is open yet though
The Pyrenees have their big season kick-off this weekend ahead of a major holiday weekend in Spain at the end of next week. So far only Masella is open, already coming up to a month in to winter 2018-19 but most other areas will be opening this Friday or Saturday and there has been more fresh snow. Down in the south of the country Sierra Nevada opened a week early with nine lifts and 43 kilometres of slopes open, providing a vertical drop of 1,100 metres with accumulated snow between 20cm and 150cm depending on the altitude.
It's looking increasingly like the ski season will kick off this coming weekend on Scottish slopes, with Glencoe and The Lecht saying they plan to open on Saturday. Temperatures have been cold and there's been fresh snow on the hills, not enough for areas to open usually but The Lecht and Glencoe now have all weather snow-making and Cairngorm is also getting a new machine this week. The season's first ski tourers have already been up high making turns on the natural snow.
The ski season is expected to start this coming weekend in Eastern Europe, a date which coincides with a forecast end-of-week of heavy snowfall in the region, so it could be a good one. Jasna in Slovakia is one of the region's largest areas scheduled to open.
Canada's 2018-19 season is starting to gather pace in terms of resorts opening but so far there's not been the big snowfalls in Alberta and BC for which the area is famous. In fact Mont Ste Anne in Quebec on the eastern side is posting the deepest base of the dozen or so Canadian resorts open already at 90cm.
Big White in BC was the latest big name resort to open, last Thursday, with 3cm of fresh snow falling on the day. It has a 79cm base and about half of its 36 runs open. Whistler, which also opened at the end of last week, has reported more than 50cm of snowfall this week up top and has a 59cm base.
There are on-going snowy times in most of the USA with heavy snowfall over the past week and more heavy snow forecast for the week ahead. The west of the country has seen 40-60cm of snow over the weekend with Winter Park reporting just over a metre – the most in the world this week. The snow in California was particularly needed and after several feet for resorts like Squaw, Heavenly and Mammoth about as much again is forecast by the weekend, so conditions are transformed from a week ago when it was ribbons of machine-made snow on brown slopes.
There's also been extreme weather causing issues in the Midwest and more heavy snowfall on the Eastern Coast of the country too with Sunday River in Maine posting 36cm in 24 hours on Tuesday, Okemo in Vermont 41cm in a similar time.