Snow Report, January 17
Gentle snowfiend, if you’re pining for the white stuff – you know, really hurting for the snow – then you’d better turn away now. The following snow report is going to make you SICK with envy.
1. One and a half metres of fresh snow in the Pyrenees
First of all, have you heard what’s been going on the Pyrenees? In the latest twist in our rollercoaster winter of 2012-3, the region has been walloped by a mighty storm. Since Saturday roughly 1.5m has fallen on the resorts of the Hautes Pyrenees in France, and maybe a metre in the resorts of Andorra. Yesterday, the road to La Mongie was closed, and the lifts shut, because of the avalanche risk – which is 4/5 or 5/5 across most of the region.
After a mild Christmas it’s a dramatic change – and there’s more snow to come. There’s a thaw on the way first, and on Saturday it will probably rain at village level in the mountains. But on Sunday, temperatures will drop and the white stuff will be back, though not in the same gargantuan quantities as this week.
2. Fresh snow, frigid temperatures and superb skiing in the Alps
Regular visitors to the Welove2ski snow report will know that conditions are much improved in the Alps, following the return of properly wintry weather on Thursday and Friday last week. 30-50cm fell across many French, Austrian and Swiss resorts and the nasty thaw that characterised Christmas and New Year has been booted south.
Since then, it’s been cold and occasionally snowy, and the skiing has been gooooorgeous. In France and Switzerland there’s been about 15-20cm of snow since Sunday, adding to last week’s powder, and the slopes have been very quiet. The sense of frosted bliss is nicely summed up by today’s snow report from our Meribel blogger Alf Alderson. “Conditions in Meribel at the moment are about as good as you could ever expect, both on and off piste,” he says. “Featherlight, Canadian-style ‘cold smoke’ adorns the slopes right down to village level and whether you want to hammer down the groomers or float serenely through waste deep fluff you’ve got the perfect snow to ski on. And it’s even been sunny for the last two days!”
We’ve also had a pretty blissed-out snow report from our Courmayeur blogger Paddy O’Powder.
If you’re feeling jealous, then the only crumb of comfort you can take is the fact that it’s bitterly cold out there at the moment. Alf said it was -15C in Meribel this morning. Tignes is expecting a top temperature of -13C, at village level.
Further east there’s been heavier snow. Over the last three days the Tirol’s excellent avalanche service has reported maybe 80cm of fresh snow in the East Tirol, and 20-30cm elsewhere. In Kitzbuhel for example, there’s now 145cm of snow on the higher slopes. Below is a shot of how it was looking on the Asten off-piste run on Tuesday – one of many in a resort which features a mind-boggling 56,800 acres of off-piste skiing.
South of the border, in the Italian Dolomites, the snow has been falling steadily since Monday – dropping about 10-15cm a day on the big-name resorts. In Canazei, the snow report talks of settled cover 35cm deep at village level and 130cm higher up. Top temperature today is expected to be -8C. Further west, in the Brenta Dolomites, Madonna di Campiglio has had fresh snow too: about 35cm this week.
3. There’s more snow to come.
It looks as though the French and Italian Alps will get the most of the next weather front. Check out our five-day snow forecast for the Alps for details – and bear in mind that it’s due to warm up again on Sunday, for a day or two, with the freezing level rising to 1200m.
After that, there is the chance of a more settled period of milder weather, at the end of next week. It won’t be as warm as it was over Christmas, and the arrival of high pressure over the Alps is by no means a certainty: but it’s worth factoring into your plans if you’re thinking of a last-minute trip.
Elsewhere in the world of snow, Are in Sweden has been having some lovely clear weather, and regular temperature inversions. It’s -16C by the lake this morning, and -10C up on the Areskutan. The sunrises have been spectacular too – although I suspect the person who took this morning’s picture may have been fiddling with the colour controls on Photoshop…
In North America, it’s been an unusually quiet three days – with sunshine and low temperatures dominant. In Breckenridge, Colorado, our blogger Shawna McKeown reported a top temperature of -20C in town on Tuesday. Brrrrrr! There was, however, a bit of new snow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – just enough for a spot of rather gorgeous photography…
|France: see the main report. There’s been some superb skiing in the French Alps this week, thanks to fresh snow and low temperatures. More of the white stuff is in the forecast, although it will be accompanied by a rise in temperatures. Snow depths are excellent at altitude, and the cover is much improved in the lower resorts too. Above Val Thorens the snow is 150-250cm deep, and in Flaine it’s up to 104-322cm deep.|
|Switzerland: As in France, conditions are much improved in all Swiss ski resorts, high and low. However, it’s cold and there are some strong winds at altitude, creating dangerous avalanche conditions on exposed off-piste slopes. Currently, Verbier has 85-230cm of snow on its slopes, Andermatt has up to 93-400cm, and Davos up to 62-128cm.|
|Austria: There’s great skiing on soft snow across most of the Austrian Alps at the moment – thanks to the fresh snow and a precipitate drop in temperatures. Resorts close to the Italian border have done well from the most recent falls. Nassfeld in Carinthia currently reports 70-170cm of cover, depending on altitude. Obergurgl has 91-204cm of snow, the Skiwelt 50-130cm and Lech 115-235cm.|
|Italy: This week, it’s Italy’s turn! There’s plenty of fresh snow in the Italian Dolomites at the moment, after three days of falls, and further west heavy snow is expected at the weekend. In the east, Selva in the east reports 40-110cm of settled cover. Above the Aosta Valley, Cervinia has 65-135cm of settled snow on its slopes.|
|Andorra: See our main report. It’s snowtime in the Pyrenees. Currently, the Grand Valira - Andorra’s biggest ski area – reports 60-150cm of snow on its slopes.|
|Western USA: California has some of the deepest cover in the west at the moment – there’s up to 269cm of settled snow at Kirkwood, for example. In Utah, Snowbird the snow report talks of 152cm, mid-mountain; in Jackson Hole in Wyoming that figure is 127cm, and in Vail, Colorado 53cm.|
|Western Canada: western Canada had a good week, last week, but there’s not been much new snow since then. Currently, the mid-mountain snowpack at Whistler is 199cm, and at Fernie it’s 221cm. Lake Louise has a little fresh snow today, and the mid-mountain depth is 143cm.|