It’s the ski season that doesn’t know when to stop. Mother Nature has just delivered another dump of snow to the Alps, and in places the new cover is nearly a metre deep.
For a time, the snow even settled in the valleys – in fact, right down to the town of Chamonix, which is just above 1000m. But it’s been retreating back uphill since yesterday morning. The freezing point is now at 2300m in France and 2000m in Austria. By Wednesday it will be back above 3000m.
Right now, a thick bank of lower-level cloud is blanketing the villages and lower slopes: but up high in France and Switzerland the skies are clear and it’s a magnificent morning to be out on skis. It’s noticeably cooler than it was last week, too. The only problem is that the avalanche risk is high in places – 4/5 in some parts of the French Alps, and 3/5 in most of the Tirol, and parts of Switzerland. So off-pisters need to exercise caution and pay close attention to local warnings. The trend, in the short term, is for the snowpack to settle. But once temperatures rise in the middle the week, the avalanche risk is likely to rise dramatically for a time – as south-facing slopes shed their new loads of snow.
As we’re in the last full week of April the number of ski resorts still open is dwindling. St Anton in Austria was one of the resorts that closed yesterday, Meribel shuts on Friday, Les Deux Alpes on Saturday and Flaine of Sunday. But a few are continuing into May – including Val d’Isere (until May 5), Cervinia (May 5), Tignes (May 12) and Val Thorens (May 12). You will of course be able to ski on a few glaciers after that. On the Hintertux in Austria, for example, they plan to spin the lifts right through the summer.
Here’s a brief sample of today’s webcams.
In Scandinavia, spring has backed off a little
In Are, Sweden, it’s cooled off a little off since last week’s thaw. The sun’s out, and on the upper slopes of the Areskutan the temperature is -1C. There’s fresh snow in the forecast: about 5cm is expected overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday. Looking at the weather charts, the signs are that it will stay cool until the weekend at least. Winds are due to be light, too – which means good conditions for the resort’s final Freeride celebration, when the top half of the Areskutan is turned into a giant terrain park. The resort closes on May 1.
More snow in North America
The season is going out with a bang in Colorado. Most resorts there have now closed: but storm after storm is rolling across the state, and Joel Gratz at Open Snow reckons up to 30cm could fall on Monday night in places. Of course the new snow is tempting many skiers and boarders into the back-country, but the avalanche risk is high – and there was a terrible accident on the Loveland pass at the weekend, which killed five snowboarders.
There’s been snow up in Canada too: Lake Louise, which closes on May 5, reported a 6cm dusting over the weekend. Top temperature on Sunday was just -4C.
|France: see our main report. There’s been heavy snow at altitude in many areas and the avalanche risk is high. At the moment, it’s still pretty cool for late April, but it will be warming up again by Wednesday. In Val Thorens the daytime temperature is +5C at resort level and the snow report records cover 140-370cm deep, on-piste.|
|Switzerland: the weather has cooled temporarily in Switzerland, and there’s fresh snow at altitude. In Zermatt, the settled cover is 250cm mid-mountain – half a metre deeper than it was last Thursday. In Verbier (which closes on April 28), they’re expecting a high of +9C today (10C cooler than last Thursday). The cover has gone on the lowest pistes, but it’s up to 310cm deep on the highest slopes.|
|Austria: in common with France and Switzerland, it’s cooler in Austria than of late, and there’s fresh snow at altitude. Most resorts without glaciers have now closed for the summer – and Hochgurgl spins its lifts for the last time on April 28. There, the snow is up to 170cm deep, and a high of +7C is expected in the village. On the Hintertux glacier the snow is up to 305cm deep in the wake of the latest snowfall.|
|Italy: the ski season has retreated to the highest resorts in Italy – for example, Cervinia and Val Senales. In the latter, there was 30cm of new snow at the weekend, and the cover is up to 390cm deep.|
|Andorra: midwinter saw heavy snow in the Pyrenees, and the depth of the cover has allowed the resorts in Andorra to stay open longer than usual. In the Grand Valira - Andorra’s biggest ski area – the lifts will be spinning until April 28. The resort is claiming up to 180cm of settled snow on its pistes. It’s cooler today than last week, with a high of +5C at village level expected.|
|Western USA: the snow continues – despite the fact that most resorts have now closed. In Utah,Snowbird reported 25cm of fresh at the weekend. In Colorado, Arapahoe Basin had about 10cm, but should get more from the storm due in on Monday night.|
|Western Canada: conditions are a little more spring-like now in the Canadian Rockies, although on Sunday, Lake Louise had 6cm of fresh snow and recorded a top temperature of -4C. Temperatures are due to rise again this week, and the resort closes on May 5. Above Whistler, Whistler Mountain closed for skiing on Sunday, but Blackcomb mountain will remain open until May 27.|