Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, just got 30 inches of fresh - and seem quite pleased about that!
Where to Ski in February 2024
February is here already and anyone skiing at a lower altitude area in the Alps or down in the Pyrenees could be forgiven for thinking we're starting the final month of the season in April, not still in the middle of winter.
Warm sunny weather has dominated the latter half of January and is forecast to continue into February, with the freezing point up above the highest peaks in the daytime... but next weekend should see temperatures drop significantly and snow arrive to low levels... keep an eye on our forecasts as the detail will change...
In the meantime the positive takeaway is that most resorts got loads of snowfall on higher slopes in the first few months of the season, meaning most runs remain open at all the well-known destination resorts.
Overly warm conditions continue to impact the Pyrenees, and it's a similar story in Eastern Europe. Scandinavia has generally the best snow quality and conditions simply because it has stayed colder and Scotland's season starts February in a downturn in its normal rollercoaster of snowy/warm weather extremes.
North America had a poor start to the 23-24 season but January saw more consistent cold temperatures and much more snowfall than most centres saw in the last three months of 2023 combined so as a result things are actually looking much better here than they were a month ago - with most slopes now open and more snow forecast to start the month here.
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Austria has had a good winter so far. True, there have been warm temperatures at times leaving valley snow wet and periods of heavy rain too, but the country's main ski areas are now long experienced in piling up the snow on lower runs when conditions are right so they survive the bad times.
As a result, February dawns with almost every run in the country open, most of the bigger areas running at 85-95% of slopes open with conditions much better up high, for those Austrian areas with plenty of terrain above 1800m.
A growing number of areas now have snow lying more than 3 metres (10 feet) deep, about a metre more than we were seeing in early February last year. It's mostly glaciers but also the Arlberg resorts like St Anton.
France is famously busy and expensive in February as crowds arrive for the half-term school holidays which begin on the first full weekend of the month and continue right into March with different regions of France as well as schools across Europe, having different weeks for their half term.
This February looks like it'll be a good one though if you can afford to squeeze onto French slopes.
Consistent snowfall has left nearly every slope in the country open - albeit with thin cover at low altitude - and France is also posting the deepest bases in the world, with Alpe d'Huez being the first in the world to post a 5-metre base, and several others including Chamonix, Flaine and Les Arcs passing 4 metres.
There has been rain at times on low slopes below 1500m so conditions down low have not been so good. Luckily most slopes at the main resorts are above 1800m.
Most Italian ski areas are not posting the healthy snow depths we're seeing in the northern Alps and small centres in the Apennines and other southerly mountain areas have had a tough time opening much terrain this winter.
Snow depths have grown a little in the Dolomites in January and it seems most ski areas in the region can open pretty much all of their slopes with only a foot of snow lying. So here too the month begins with pretty much everything open.
The deepest snow is up in the north west where La Thuile has more than 3m (120 feet) of snow lying. The Milky Way (Via Lattea) region had only comparatively limited terrain (200km of its 400km) open in the first half of January and a thin base. The base there now looks much healthier but it's still only about two-thirds open – although two-thirds is still a lot of runs.
It's a similar story in Switzerland to the rest of Europe – a very warm end to January and start to February, but with most slopes open at the country's main ski destinations thanks to the fact that they've had plenty of early-season snow and even though it's warmer than it should be above 2000m, it's not so warm that the snow is melting too fast up high.
Verbier and the 4 Valleys for example start the month with more than 95% of their slopes reported open, 390km of 410km. Lower down it's not so positive with warmth and rain impacting cover.
Here too the hope is that a now overdue return to winter arrives soon in February.
Alas if not quite a season to forget, it has been one of the most challenging for ski areas in the Pyrenees to keep operating through, with too warm temperatures and too little snow.
There was one chink of light in early January when temperatures dipped, snow fell and more terrain open but the latter half of the month saw a return to +10C in valleys and most areas were limited to just upper mountain runs open. Hopefully, winter will finally arrive properly in the Pyrenees in February – long-term forecasts currently look more optimistic after about the 10th.
Scandinavian centres have consistently posted the best snow conditions in Europe through the past three months of the season and February is often a great month to visit as the lows of -30C to -40C and 24-hour polar night of December and January are behind us.
The month begins with most of the region's big centres fully open and enjoying rapidly increasing daylight hours. The famous Riksgransen centre up in the Swedish Arctic Circle is due to open for its 2024 season at the end of the month and will have 24-hour daylight by early May!
It's a mixed picture across Eastern Europe but there are similar issues to elsewhere across much of the continent – more southerly and more low-altitude areas battling to get adequate snow cover, higher centres and higher slopes looking pretty good!
In terms of open terrain the centres starting February pretty much fully open with a metre or more of snow up top include Bulgaria's Borovets and Slovakia's Jasna. But some well-known destinations like Bansko are still struggling to open lower runs and are closer to 50% open.
Scottish ski centres have had their usual mixed start to the season, although November through January has seen more consistently cold temperatures than in recent years with temperatures remaining in single figures above zero and often sub-zero when other late autumns/winters often see spikes in the teens thawing all the snow.
The problem this winter has been not a lot of snowfall to build basses in the first place. But most of the centres maintain nursery slopes with all-weather snowmaking systems and there's been good ski touring in the latter half of January with snow accumulating up high.
All five centres were open from mid-January, albeit with limited terrain, so hopefully things will further improve in February.
Canada hasn't had a particularly good 23-24 season so far with too little snowfall and mild weather for much of November and December.
The latter half of January did bring consistently sub-zero temperatures across the country at last (in fact a few days at -40C inland were a bit too cold for operations in parts of Alberta and BC in the middle of last month).
So the country's ski slopes start February in the best shape they've been all season to date. Temperatures have been from freezing to -20C the last week of January with snow depths fairly good and almost all areas at least 90% open.
The US starts February with the best conditions they've seen all season.
January transformed the dire start to winter across most of the country with significant snowfalls which continued for much of the month. As a result, we've gone from about 50% of slopes open a month ago to more like 90% now.
The biggest transformation has been along the continent's West Coast where resorts like Mammoth were struggling to open much at all, but about two metres of January snowfall has now left them fully open.
The Rockies had been in the best shape in November and December and is the place where resorts like Keystone and America's largest area, Park City in Utah, are posting 100% of slopes open for February.
Utah also has the deepest snowpack in the country.
Much improved on the East Coast as well but still with warm weather blips occurring unfortunately.