Flippin ‘eck. Have you seen what’s been going on in the Alps?
Since our last snow report, on Monday, some of the resorts lining the Swiss-Italian border have been walloped by over a metre of the white stuff. Chic little Madonna di Campiglio in the Brenta Dolomites has the highest total I’ve found so far: 120cm in three days on the upper slopes of its Groste sector. But there have been significant falls elsewhere too. In its latest snow report, Cervinia records 80cm on its upper slopes, while next door Zermatt reports 50cm on its glacier. Meanwhile, pocket-sized Pila has up to 70cm of fresh snow, and Obergurgl in Austria 60cm.
The snow came from the south to start with, and was accompanied by rain at lower altitudes, and warm Foehn winds in parts of France, Switzerland and Austria. But it’s now been replaced by a frigid northern airflow, which has sent temperatures plummeting, and has brought much more widespread snow across the region.
Check today’s Welove2ski snow forecast (above) for a sense of what’s coming up today. This, by the way, is the last day of heavy snowfall until after the weekend. But come Tuesday, it looks as though another cold and snowy front will hit the region, with – at least – moderate accumulations in many resorts in France, Switzerland and Austria. Temperatures will remain low throughout – and in fact it looks as though it will stay cold until the end of next week, at least.
In other words, snowfiends, WINTER IS HERE. It hasn’t come soon enough to save the opening dates of some resorts. St Anton’s opening date has, for example, been put back till December 6. But by the time the second weather front has blown through – and after the snow cannons have been working flat out for ten days – there will be good or even excellent cover (on-piste at least), in almost every resort, high or low.
Below is a quick sample of today’s photos and webcam shots. This is the snow we’ve all been waiting for, folks. Grab a last-minute, pre-Christmas package if you can, do a bit of remedial work on your ski fitness, and get out there, as soon as possible.
It’s not just the Alps that have had the snow. There’s been a precipitous drop in temperatures in Scandinavia too – along with fresh snow. Check out the picture taken in Are, Sweden, below – and note how the lake is freezing in the background. Last weekend, the resort opened its cable-car and offered top-to-bottom skiing for the first time this winter: one of the earliest dates anyone can remember this happening.
But that’s not all, folks. In North America the forecasts are predicting an epic storm in northern California, starting tomorrow. It’s going to hit the Lake Tahoe resorts (and probably Mammoth too), and last for three days. Chances are it’s going to puke snow – and Heavenly and its neighbours could be in for one of their occasional monster dumps. We’ll keep you posted.
|France: The weather is living up to its promise, and snow is now falling widely across the French Alps. In Tignes they have 35cm of new snow, and it’s looking good for the opening of the Espace Killy on Saturday (Val d’Isere will be opening then too). Don’t expect too much off-piste just yet, but the pistes should be in great shape. Les Deux Alpes also opens on Saturday. In the Three Valleys, Val Thorens is already open, and the links to Meribel and Courchevel open on December 8. Above Chamonix, the Grands Montets will be the first ski area to open – on December 8.|
|Switzerland: See our main report. Zermatt is a good place to be sking right now – thanks to deep cover at altitude. You can now ski in two sectors of the resort – and over into Cervinia, too. With the new snow and low temperatures, every other resort worth its chair-lifts will be making snow and grooming pistes, to. In St Moritz there’s been plenty of snow this week, and you can now ski in three of the sectors there – Corvatsch, Corviglia and Diavolezza.|
|Austria: Being so close to the Italian border has helped Obergurgl no end this season so far. Compare its great start to winter (60cm of fresh snow, 125cm of cover on the higher pistes) with the delayed openings at St Anton and Lech. Still, the new snow falling now should help the other resorts catch up – especially if the second weather front delivers next week. Ischgl is also open now, as is Obertauern, and of course there will be superb skiing on the on the glaciers once the skies have cleared – for example at Hintertux and on the Pitztal.|
|Italy: In Cervinia you’ll be able to ski back down to resort level on Saturday – further evidence of its strong start to the season. Thanks to the walloping Madonna di Campiglio has had, it will be opening properly for the season on December 1, with skiing on both the Groste and Spinale sectors. Monterosa will be opening this weekend too. In the east, Cortina d’Ampezzo opened on November 22, and Kronplatz on November 24. Most of the rest of the Dolomites will open on December 6.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski season is almost up and running. The Grand Valira area opens tomorrow. Vallnord gets going on Saturday. The resorts will have been working their snow cannons hard. But the natural snowfall means the opening weekend will be a memorable one.|
|Western USA: See our main report. All eyes are now on California. It could be a very interesting weekend in the Lake Tahoe resorts such as Heavenly! Meanwhile, in Wyoming Jackson Hole is enjoying a decent start to the season – with 180cm of snow so far on its upper slopes and more than 30cm expected at the weekend. Colorado could do with another dump, though, and there’s not much in the immediate forecast. The situation there can change quickly and dramatically at this time of year, but no-one likes such a dry start to the season.|
|Western Canada: Regular readers of our snow report will know that for almost the whole of November, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise in Banff National Park have had the best conditions of any of the resorts we report on. That will probably change over the coming weeks, as other resorts catch up, but they’re still a safe bet for good pre-Christmas skiing. Whistler is in pretty good shape too – with a mid-mountain snowbase of a metre, and perhaps 40cm of snow likely to fall on the upper slopes at the weekend.|