Are you looking for snow? We’ve got snow…
There’s been more heavy snow in the high Alps
Pictured above was sunrise this morning above Saas-Fee in Switzerland, which has seen another enormous dump at altitude this week – on top of all the snow that fell last week. “We’ve had about two metres of snow,” the tourist office said this morning. “What, in the last two weeks?” I asked. “No, in the last two days,” was the reply (although I think that’s an estimate, rather than an exact measurement).
Not surprisingly, the pistes on the glacier are all closed because of the avalanche risk: but once the blasting has been done, there’ll be skiing down to the mid-station again at the weekend – weather permitting.
Meanwhile, pictured below is Cervinia in Italy. Yesterday afternoon it reported 40cm of new snow, on top of the 110cm that fell on the highest pistes last week. There’s doubtless been more overnight. Weather permitting, you can ski over to Zermatt in Switzerland from here, and now that skies have cleared, it’s obvious conditions are superb. It’s worth noting that below 2500m however, the cover is wet and heavy – an indication of how mild it still is across the region. So you’ll need to stay high to get good snow.
Pictured below is the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes in France. Here too, there’s been more snow, although not in the same quantities as in the Cervinia/Zermatt/Saas-Fee area. Five pistes are currently open here for skiing.
Pictured below is how it’s looking at Obergurgl in Austria this morning. The resort opens today, full-time for the winter season, although the valley runs down to Obergurgl won’t be open yet. There’s up to 60cm of settled cover, on piste – and hopefully, the skies will clear this afternoon…
One key point about the white stuff this week: in most places, the snow has only fallen above about 2000m, and it’s only cold and wintry above 2500m. Lower down, there’s been rain – so most pistes, in most resorts, are still pretty green. That’s fine: most resorts won’t be opening for another month. But it’s worth stressing, again, that you need a lot of altitude in your plans if you fancy skiing in the near future. Check out our guide to the best resorts for early-season skiing for advice on where to go for a pre-Christmas trip.
More white stuff is on the way
Check out our snow forecast for the Alps for Saturday, November 15. The maps look good for Monday and Tuesday too, as temperatures drop temporarily. French forecaster Meteo Chamonix reckons the freezing point could be down to 1500m on Sunday, before rising back to 2400m on Wednesday. So a lot more of the mountains will be looking white for a time, before the snowline creeps back uphill again.
The American Rockies have had snow, too
Pictured above was the scene in Breckenridge, Colorado, yesterday afternoon. The resort had to postpone its opening day last week, as a result of a long run of mild weather in the Rockies, but it’s definitely opening on Saturday. The new snow is a great curtain raiser and – according to local forecaster Joel Gratz – there’s more on the way. In fact, the weekly total in some Colorado resorts could top 70cm by Monday. All this new snow won’t correct the overall shortfall so far this autumn: but it’s a big step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, here’s the snow stake yesterday evening in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The resort reports a total of 48cm of snow in the last three days, and is due to open on November 26.
And this was the scene at the top of Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Monday, when the resort had 27cm of snow. Jackson Hole is due to open on November 27.
It looks as though the run of cold weather could continue in the Rockies until the middle of next week.
In Canada, Lake Louise opens today
In the Canadian Rockies, mild weather forced Lake Louise to postpone its opening day last week. But it’s back on track now, thanks to a cold snap and fresh snow at the beginning of the week. The lifts start running today. Its neighbour, Sunshine Village, will get going tomorrow, with up to 62cm of settled cover on its slopes.
|France: above Tignes, the Grande Motte glacier is open for skiing, weather permitting, and as you’ll see from our main report, conditions are pretty good whenever skies clear. Pistes lower down will be opening up as the month progresses, and on November 29, the links with neighbouring Val d’Isere should be opening too. Meanwhile, in the 3 Valleys, high-altitude Val Thorens is due to open on November 22.|
|Switzerland: weather permitting, four glaciers are currently open for skiing in Switzerland – above Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Engelberg and Les Diablerets. Snow cover at altitude above Zermatt and Saas-Fee is exceptional in the wake of the heavy snow over the last 10 days. Both Verbier and Laax are currently opening at weekends, too.|
|Austria: the Austrian season takes a step forward today with the opening of Obergurgl – the first resort in the Alps without glacier skiing to get going full-time for winter. There’s a lot of action on the glaciers too. Most have had a top-up of the snow this week, but not in the same quantities seen along the Swiss-Italian border. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Molltal, Pitztal, Kaunertal, Rettenbach and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers. On the Hintertux glacier, 40km of pistes are now open, and the snow is up to 185cm deep.|
|Italy: there’s a lot of cold powdery snow above the Plan Maison mid-station at Cervinia: with the skies now clearing after the latest storm, it’s one of the best places to be skiing right now. Meanwhile, above Val Senales in the South Tyrol, six pistes are currently open for skiing on the glacier.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.|
|Western USA: see our main report. In Colorado, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Keystone and Copper are all now open for the season, and Breckenridge will be joining them at the weekend. By the time the current series of cold fronts has moved through the state, conditions will be much improved across the state.|
|Western Canada: in western Canada, Whistler has had heavy snow at altitude. The resort is due to open on November 27. In Banff National Park, Lake Louise will be opening today, and Sunshine Village tomorrow.|