Snow Report, March 21
It’s been a week to remember in the Alps. As you probably know already, the southern half of the French Alps were walloped by a mighty storm on Sunday and Monday, and Serre Chevalier notched up 120cm of new snow on its mid-mountain slopes. The snow was almost too deep to ski – unless you went at it at Mach3 like the guys from the local ESF, who took the picture above on Monday.
There was fresh snow almost everywhere else in the region too: Les Deux Alpes had 60cm at village level. And Paddy O’Powder in Courmayeur reported superb conditions on Sunday afternoon, with another top-up on Monday (check out our March 18 Snow Report for more on that). Meanwhile, in Meribel, our blogger Alf Alderson has been skiing powder for three days non-stop. “Conditions on-piste and off are probably as good as they ever get in mid March,” he reported this morning. “Be careful if heading off piste though, the avalanche risk is very high.”
The Dolomites also did well. Madonna di Campiglio had 60cm from the storm, and there was 80cm on the Marmolada glacier, above Arabba. In St Anton, Piste to Powder reported up to 30cm of powder: which was not in the same super-league of snow, but still put a smile on everyone’s face.
Since then, there’s been more snow. Meribel and Tignes both report up to 15cm overnight. In Switzerland, Verbier has 10cm, and in little Andermatt – where I’ve been skiing this morning – there’s 25cm of fresh snow on the Oberalppass. It’s been a blissful morning of empty slopes and powder almost to our knees. The ski area here is about to begin a big modernization programme: but for now it’s like skiing in the 1950s. (Or rather, what I imagine skiing in the 1950s was like – only with much, much, much better boots and skis…).
Despite all this gorgeous new snow, we mustn’t forget that it’s nearly April. As soon as the sun came out in Switzerland this morning, temperatures jumped and south-facing snow below 2000m quickly became heavy. Down at 1500m, the pistes were slushy by 11am. Meanwhile, off-piste, south-facing slopes were starting to shed their loads in wet-snow avalanches at midday.
In other words, the best time to ski the new snow is already gone. ‘Twas ever thus in spring. If you’re planning a last-minute, end-of-season trip, you must pick a resort with plenty of skiing above the 2200m mark, and lots of north-facing slopes, to be sure of finding good conditions. If it’s powder you’re after, hire a guide to keep you safe and direct your skis to the best snow.
Still, it looks as though this run of skier-friendly weather will continue for a little while, yet. Check out our Alpine snow forecast for Monday, March 25, below!
It’s still winter in Scandinavia
Meanwhile, up in Scandinavia, it’s still winter. Pictured, above, was the scene at the terrain park in Are, Sweden earlier today. The lunchtime temperature by the lake, at the bottom of the slopes, was a crisp -5C.
There’s more snow in the forecast across the pond
For the resorts of the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies, a busy few days of weather lies ahead. It’s already been snowing up in Canada (Whistler reports 36cm of snow in 48 hours and Fernie 20cm in the 24 hours), and the latest weather front is now moving into the American Rockies. Jackson Hole is expecting a decent dump (maybe 45cm in total), and so too is Snowbird in Utah. The Colorado resorts should see fresh snow too. Yet more snow – and colder temperatures – are expected on Friday and Saturday.
|France: see our main report. It’s been a fabulous week of snow across much of the French Alps – but temperatures are now rising in the sunshine. The freezing level could be up to 2500m on Friday. Hopefully, the snow that’s forecast for Monday will refresh the slopes. In Val Thorens, in the Three Valleys, the snowpack is currently 170-370cm deep, and a high of +1C is expected. In Flaine in the Grand Massif, the snow’s 88-385cm deep.|
|Switzerland: Switzerland hasn’t seen as much fresh snow as France this week, although there’s still been enough powder about in most places to keep the off-pisters happy. Currently, St Moritz reports a settled snowpack of 40-160cm, Engelberg has 42-487cm, and Davos 70-172cm. In Davos the top temperatures in town today is +2C.|
|Austria: in most parts of Austria there wasn’t as much snow as in France or the Italian Dolomites. With temperatures now rising in the sunshine, the cover is getting pretty wet and heavy in the lower resorts too. Aim high for the best conditions. Currently, high-altitude Obergurgl has 78-201cm of settled snow, and a high of -2C. There was 3cm of fresh snow overnight. St Anton reports 75-250cm of settled cover on its pistes.|
|Italy: many Italian resorts did well from the snow at the beginning of the week, though there’s not been much since then. Canazei reports 45-200cm of settled cover. Above the Aosta Valley, Cervinia reports 95-290cm of settled snow. As is the case elsewhere in the Alps, you must migrate to the top of your lift system to find the best conditions now the sun is out.|
|Andorra: it’s a mild and sunny day in Andorra. The Grand Valira - Andorra’s biggest ski area – reports 140-250cm of settled snow on its slopes, and a temperature of +5C at resort level. Aim high and stick to north-facing slopes for the best skiing conditions.|
|Western USA: see main report. It’s going to be snowy for the next three days in the American Rockies. In Utah, Snowbird the snow report talks of 33cm of new snow and 218cm of settled cover, mid-mountain; in Jackson Hole in Wyoming that figure is 170cm, and in Breckenridge, Colorado 163cm. Meanwhile, above Lake Tahoe in California, Heavenly reports 10cm of new snow today and 122cm of settled cover.|
|Western Canada: Whistler reports 18cm of fresh snow today and a mid-mountain snowpack that’s 280cm deep. It’s pretty spring-like on the lower half of the ski area, though. In Sunshine Village, in Banff National Park there is 8cm of fresh snow today, the snowpack is two metres deep mid-mountain, and the high today will be -8C.|