Snow Report, September 17
There’s more snow in the Alpine forecast! Okay, not as much is expected to fall this week as on September 12-13, or on August 31. But still, it’s good to see these cool, wet weather fronts continuing to move across the region from the north and north-west. The signs are that another is due in on Saturday, bringing yet more snow to the higher peaks and ridges.
As we’ve said in our last snow report, this doesn’t mean winter is already underway. But if this pattern of weather holds up we can at least hope for a good pre-season on the Alpine glaciers: and maybe, maybe, an early start to the proper ski season in November…
Here’s the Welove2ski Alpine snow forecast for Wednesday. In truth, most places will only get a dusting of snow, though parts of the Tirol and the Salzburgerland in Austria could see 30cm.
Below was how the Hintertux glacier was looking this morning. The cover is still thin: the sharp edges of the crevasses are a clear expression of that. But already it’s a considerable improvement on the grey, threadbare views we were looking at back in August. Overall, it was a poor summer skiing season in the Alps, with a mixture of rain and warm sunshine conspiring to thin the cover rapidly. Fingers crossed the snowy weather continues to repair the damage.
Lower down, the latest dose of snow caused problems for the Piste 2 Plage cycling event (in aid of Help For Heroes), which ran through the Alps from Sainte Foy to Juan les Pins last week. “It was bloody freezing at the top of the Galibier this morning and blowing 50 knots! The descent on a bike was terrifying,” reported one of the participants, Graham Adams, on September 13. Three cheers to everyone who finished the ride!
However, it is worth pointing out that the snow at lower elevations is melting soon after it falls. Compare the difference between the Stand Ski Hut in Engelberg today, with the same view on Thursday last week.
Meanwhile, over in Colorado, the Rocky-Mountain ski resort of Loveland has announced that there are only nine days to go until it turns on its snow-cannons. Loveland is one of the main contenders in the race to be the first American ski resort to fire up its lift system each autumn, and in 2009 it opened its first groomed trail on October 9.
In the last couple of winters, however, it’s been pipped at the post by other resorts – and that may happen again this winter, thanks to the climate anomaly, El Niño, which is currently taking shape in the Pacific Ocean (read last week’s snow report for more on that). According to the detailed discussion of the forthcoming American winter at The Weather Centre, it looks as though southern Nevada, southern Utah, and south-western Colorado are due a bumper crop of snow this season. Maybe somewhere like Wolf Creek or even Telluride will beat Loveland to the draw.
(Late addition – September 17 has seen the first significant snow of the autumn in the Colorado Rockies. In Breckenridge – pictured below – they reckon to have had 4cm overnight.)
And what of the southern hemisphere? Well, spring is in control on the other side of the planet now – and we note that despite heavy snow in late August, Portillo in Chile has brought forward its closing day to September 22. Meanwhile, in Perisher, New South Wales, the slopes were being doused by rain today – although the season there has been extended, thanks to unusually heavy snow in August.
The best conditions of last week were enjoyed by the Queenstown resorts of NZ. On September 11, skiers at Coronet Peak enjoyed low temperatures, fresh snow and clear skies in what was described as probably the best day of the season.
|France: The glaciers above Les Deux Alpes and Tignes, are currently closed. Tignes reopens on September 29, and will stay open right through autumn. Les Deux Alpes will open briefly from October 27 to November 4 – and again for the winter season on December 1.|
|Switzerland: Five pistes were open today for summer skiing above Saas-Fee and five pistes above Zermatt. Currently, at Saas-Fee the cover is 109cm deep. The glacier at Engelberg reopens for skiing on October 6, and will shut from November 5-16..|
|Austria: Thanks to the snow on September 12 and 13, the cover on the Hintertux glacier is back up to 65cm. But they’ll still be glad of the extra snow due to fall this week. You can also ski on the Molltal glacier. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is currently closed due to the thin snow cover, and expects to reopen in early October. The Stubai and a href=”http://www.pitztaler-gletscher.at/en” target=”_blank”>Pitztal glaciers are both hoping to restart skiing at the end of September.|
|Italy: Glacier skiing will resume above Val Senales later this month – if conditions are good enough.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski areas are closed.|
|Western USA: All the mainstream resorts in the US are now closed for skiing. However, there is skiing (and a terrain park) on offer at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon.|
|Western Canada: The glacier above Whistler is now closed.|