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J2Ski Snow Report - December 21st 2023

J2Ski Snow Report - December 21st 2023

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Started by Admin in Snow Forecasts and Snow Reports

J2Ski Snow Report - December 21st 2023

Admin posted 21-Dec

Tignes, France with great snow already - before more arrived today...

Great snow at altitude in the Alps, with more arriving. Some heavy snow in the forecast for parts of the US, Canada and Japan.

The Snow Headlines - December 21st
- Many ski areas in the Alps posting deeper bases up high than they had all last season.
- Challenging conditions continue in much of North America, rain closing East Coast resorts.
- Snowy start to Bulgaria's ski season.
- French resorts posting most open terrain and deepest snow in the world.
- Scottish ski season hopefully starting this weekend after Wednesday launch postponed.
- Challenging times in the Pyrenees.

We're out in Tignes this week, and if you're heading here (or to many other alpine ski areas) for Xmas - you're in for a treat!

Some big snows forecast for Europe, America and Japan.

Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text above this line, is free to re-publish, but must be clearly credited to www.J2ski.com with text including "J2Ski Snow Report" linked to this page - thank you.

World Overview
With the peak Christmas and New Year weeks coming up, it's looking very different to a year ago with the Alps in good shape, despite a few weather ups and downs, but things looking well below par in most parts of North America where dry, warm conditions linger.

The snowfall in the Alps of the past 6-8 weeks has left the snow lying deep and for many areas it is already deeper than it got all last season, with more and more reaching over 2 metres lying on higher slopes, several now passing 3 metres (10 feet).

Scandinavia is also in good shape but eastern Europe is more of a mixed picture and Scottish ski centres are struggling to open for the season at all, relying on all-weather snowmaking. Things aren't great in the Pyrenees yet either, again too warm and dry here so a battle for centres to open and then prepare much terrain once they do.

It's a similar story across the Atlantic with dry warm weather on the West Coast leaving resorts like Heavenly, Mammoth and Whistler with little open and heavy rain to start this week closing a lot of centres on the East Coast too. Only the Rockies, in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, are looking fairly good.

There are some potentially heavy snowfalls in the forecast for parts of the US, Canada and Japan but it remains to be seen how much that translates into reality.

It was a sunny weekend and start to the week in Austria with temperatures creeping up a little, if not so much as forecast at the end of last week. But things have got back on track since midweek for most areas with plenty of fresh snowfall since Wednesday which is expected to continue into the weekend.

Temperatures have also dropped back down below freezing to low levels.

More and more terrain has opened up ahead of the peak Christmas to New Year fortnight, with the Arlberg region leading the way with the slopes about 80% open around Lech and St Anton.

The Skiwelt and Ischgl/Samnaun also have more than 200km of slopes open each.

It's looking increasingly snowy for the next three days, above about 1300m at least (rain below). Sunshine returning from Christmas Day.

French resorts scored some big snowfall gains at the end of last week just after we published last week's report, with several posting over 50cm of fresh on high slopes after earlier rainfall last week.

It's been sometimes snowy since giving some great conditions. The 3 Valleys is now about 85% open – nearly 500km of slopes skiable - and several French resorts including Flaine are already posting 3 metre (10 feet) bases, the deepest in the world right now.

A snowy few days ahead with up to 30cm accumulations possible through the weekend, but temperatures are unfortunately set to rise to high single figures at low altitudes in the afternoons by Christmas when skies are expected to clear for next week too.

It has been a fairly uneventful week on Italian slopes with just a few light snowfalls, plenty of sunshine and temperatures mostly hovering around freezing. The result is that there's little change from a week ago to snow stats.

Val Gardena has the most terrain open in Italy, with more than 170km of slopes, although Cervinia's cross-border, year-round ski area shared with Zermatt has passed 220km of slopes open.

A period of more changeable weather over the next 48 hours should bring between 15 and 30cm of snowfall by the end of Saturday to ski areas across the country before sunshine returns for the Christmas period.

A fairly quiet week on Swiss slopes as well, with plenty of sunshine following snowfall at the end of last week.

Most resorts are reporting good conditions and many better snow depths than they saw all last season.

Saas Fee has the country's deepest base, up another 10cm this week to 260cm. There's more snowfall coming through the weekend, along with rising temperatures, but skies are expected to clear and go back to sunny weather, and a little warmer, next week.

Alas, it has continued to be predominantly sunny and hitting +10C in Pyrenean valleys so many smaller centres remain closed and the bigger resorts are struggling to open terrain with thin cover.

Some are doing better than others with Baqueira Beret reporting over 100km of slopes open at the weekend, about 60% of their runs. The region's largest area, Andorra's Grandvalira, is up to about a third of its 240km of slopes open and said all inter-resort links were open this weekend, although some skiers noted some connections were so far only possible by lift, not piste.

The forecast, for cooler temperatures and some precipitation, is a little more promising.

A familiar story in Scotland with the five Highland centres struggling to open due to lack of natural snow cover. What little there had been earlier this month has suffered from temperatures of +10C and higher earlier this week, although temperatures are now dropping away and snowfall is expected.

But the TechnoAlpin SnowFactory machines that make snow internally to spray on small areas of the slopes are proving a godsend again. Glencoe already has there's open for a sledging slope, and Glenshee had planned to join them on Wednesday but changed its mind with temperatures too mild even for all-weather snowmaking, delaying until at least Christmas Eve.

Cairngorm currently says it'll open from Friday with a nursery slope and The Lecht plans to create a terrain park next week with theirs.

A mixed week of weather in Scandinavia with some more southerly areas seeing daytime highs hit +6C briefly during a sunny spell to start this week before it got colder and snowier again.

Further north it stayed below freezing throughout and in the far north we're a week into three weeks of Polar night when the sun isn't getting above the horizon in Lapland, so it has been very cold, again, up here.

Most centres have 30-60% of their slopes open with Norway's Trysil posting the most piste kilometres open, ahead of the region's biggest area Sweden's Are.

Going into the Christmas weekend most resorts will see -5C to -15C temperatures and further snowfall.

Eastern Europe
Bulgaria's ski season got underway last weekend at Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo although Vitosha remained closed.

Resorts had generally been dampening expectations due to the warm, dry weather in the lead-up to opening which meant only limited terrain could open. There was a big snowfall on Saturday though which raised spirits considerably ...before things returned to sunny and rather warm through this week.

North America
Canada's ski season remains sub-par on both the East and West coasts, both with a similar story to tell – too warm and too dry.

In Quebec, when it wasn't dry, it was raining earlier this week, leading most areas to shut down operations for a few days.

In the West, the continent's biggest area Whistler Blackcomb still hasn't opened half its terrain. The most snowfall and the highest percentages of open terrain are in Eastern BC and western Alberta where resorts are 60-100% open and several, including Fernie, have passed a metre base depths up top.

It has been another below-par week for most US ski areas.

The East Coast has had a particularly bad time with torrential rain leading to many areas closing again just before Christmas while in the West, California remains dry and sunny so resorts like Heavenly and Mammoth still have only about a third of their terrain open and a thin base - although there has at last been a little natural snowfall in the last few days.

The Rockies have the best conditions with snow several feet deep and most resorts 50-90% open, Vail posting the most terrain open in the country right now.

The deepest snow is up in Alaska which has bucked the trend with it lying a few metres deep. The forecast is for more sunshine though a little cooler, outside chance of more snowfall later in the weekend.

The Admin Man

Edited 1 time. Last update at 21-Dec-2023