It’s been a busy few days of weather in the western half of the Alps. First we had snow at altitude, some of which was heavy. Saas-Fee in Switzerland was claiming 60cm of new snow at altitude yesterday morning, and published some stunning photos on Facebook.
Val d’Isere in France got lucky, too, and reckoned on 30cm of new snow. Pictured below was how the slopes beneath the Pisaillas glacier looked yesterday.
Conditions were pretty good on the Pitztal glacier in the Austrian Tirol, too…
Annoyingly, during the course of Monday, the weather warmed up sharply, and sent the snowline racing back uphill, there was rain too.
And now? Look what’s happening this afternoon on the Rocher de Bellevarde above Val d’Isere.
Snow is falling in Val Thorens, too…
Welove2ski’s own snow forecast for the Alps seems to be underplaying the likely accumulations from this bout of heavy rain/wet snow. Thing is, it’s likely to keep going overnight, while temperatures drop. According to French forecaster Meteo Chamonix, the freezing point could be down to 2300m tomorrow morning. The snow/rain is likely to spread east, into Switzerland and Austria too, and will settle down to 2500m for a time.
In other words, the glaciers are due another very welcome top-up of snow. They’ll need it. Conditions in the glacier ski areas have improved enormously since mid-September, but temperatures are likely to keep yo-yoing about for some time, and a good blanket of the white stuff to is the best insurance against whatever weather Mother Nature throws at them in the run-up to winter.
Pictured below is the scene earlier today on the Rettenbach glacier above Solden in Austria. This will be the setting for the first races of the World Cup season, on October 24, and 25, and the resort is very upbeat about conditions now. “The slopes are ready for the World Cup stars with 40 cm of snow,” is the comment that’s just been posted on Facebook. Let’s hope they stay that way!
Meanwhile, in Colorado
There was a dusting of snow at the weekend in Loveland…
…and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado.
Loveland and A-Basin are the two high-altitude ski areas in Colorado which are usually making snow in early October, as they race to be the first in the state to open. However, the autumn has been a mild one so far, and it’s too warm to run the snow cannons. There might be some high-altitude snow further west in California over the next few days – and snow in western Canada at the weekend, too – but in the American Rockies there’s no sign yet of a proper autumnal drop in temperature. Joel Gratz, Colorado’s Open Snow forecaster, is hoping for a change at the end of the month, which is late to say the least. But then, given the strength of El Nino in the Pacific, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised…
If you’re wondering where to head for a pre-Christmas dose of snow, check out our guide to the best resorts for early-season skiing.
|France: the Grande Motte above Tignes has now reopened for autumn skiing, and given how grey and knackered it was looking in August, conditions have improved dramatically. Next up will be the glacier above Les Deux Alpes, which will open for a winter preview from October 24-November 1.|
|Switzerland: currently Zermatt claims 149cm of snow at 2900m. Here, 11 lifts are currently open, serving 18 pistes. You can also ski on the glacier above Saas-Fee.|
|Austria: five glaciers are currently open in Austria for skiing – the Hintertux, the Molltal, the Pitztal, the Stubai, and the Rettenbach, above Solden. The Hintertux has the most terrain on offer, with 18km of pistes. However, it’s worth noting that the Kitzsteinhorn, above Kaprun is still waiting for more snow and a drop in temperature before it announces its opening date.|
|Italy: The glacier above Val Senales is now open. Cervinia will be opening again on October 17.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are closed.|
|Western USA: Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon had to close its lifts on August 2 after a low snowfall and a hot summer (thanks to Martin Bell for the update!). Hopefully, the Colorado resorts of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin will shortly be starting their race to open, but it’s still too warm to get the snow cannons going.|
|Western Canada: there was snow in the resorts of Banff-Lake Louise in mid-September, but it’s retreated back into the high mountains. If all’s well, the resorts there will be opening in early November.|