Thank you, Snow Gods – for creating such a cracking Easter week of skiing in the Alps. Moderate to heavy snowfall between Thursday and Sunday, combined with cool temperatures, have done the trick. Anyone skiing a high-altitude resort with lots of north-facing slopes over the last couple of days should have had a blast.
According to French forecasters Meteo Chamonix the freezing level will be at 1800m today in the French Alps. In Austria, the Tirol’s avalanche service thinks the 0C level will reach 2000m. Both figures are pretty low for early April: although it’s worth remembering how strong the sun is now. At village level in many ski areas the slopes will be slushy by lunchtime, despite the generally fresh feel to the weather. Off-piste, any slope below 2400m which sees a lot of sun will be heavy and wet in the afternoon and crusty first thing in the morning.
Up high there’s a still a lot of powder about, thanks to the 50cm+ of fresh snow that fell between Thursday and Sunday in some resorts. But only the most experienced skiers should try to find it themselves. The avalanche risk is considerable – and there’s an enormous variety of snow conditions to be tackled out there. Hire a guide to keep you safe – and to ensure you don’t spend all your time hacking through crust and crud.
Here’s a sample of today’s webcams.
The outlook now is for a spring-like mixture of sunshine and clouds until Thursday, when wet weather is due to roll into northern Italy, bringing snow to its higher resorts – and a little of the white stuff to French, Swiss and Austrian resorts along the Italian border. Temperatures are expected to drop at the weekend.
Another sunny day in Sweden
Below was how it was looking above the terrain park in Are, Sweden at lunchtime today, where the temeperature was +1 at the bottom of the lifts and -5C at the top. There was a top-up of snow in the middle of last week, which left up to 20cm of powder on the off-piste slopes of the Areskustan.
Across the Atlantic, it’s still mild
In the resorts of western Canada and America, the mild weather continues: Aspen is for example expecting a high of +13C in town on Thursday. Needless to say, the snow’s likely to be wet and heavy on the bottom half of most ski resorts as a result. There was a decent dump in Snowbird, Utah, yesterday (30cm) and according to the Open Snow, heavy snow showers are possible in Colorado today: but there may be the odd lightning strike mixed in with the snow to make things interesting. For the best chance of wintry conditions, head to the resorts of the Canadian Rockies, such as Lake Louise. Here, it’s still fairly cool and snow is expected at the weekend.
|France: see our main report. Some resorts saw half a metre of snow falling at the end of last week – although 30cm was more normal. Up high, conditions are fantastic as a result, although the avalanche risk is still considerable. Lower down, spring-skiing tactics are required to deal with the daily cycle of melting and overnight refreezing. Up high, Val Thorens’ snow report talks of 165-365cm of cover. The forecast is for a high of +5C. In Flaine in the Grand Massif, the snow’s 63-390cm deep.|
|Switzerland: conditions are currently very good at altitude in the Swiss Alps, thanks to recent snowfall. Currently, St Moritz reports a settled snowpack of 20-160cm, Engelberg has 40-487cm, and Davos 63-176cm. In Davos the top temperatures in town today will be +5C.|
|Austria: the last couple of days have been superb in the Austrian Alps, thanks to heavy snow on Sunday, accompanied by low temperatures. However, you must remember that this is April. Conditions will change very quickly whenever the sun comes out – so aim high for the best snow. Currently, high-altitude Obergurgl has 69-182cm of settled snow, and a high of +1C. St Anton reports 65-245cm of settled cover on its pistes. The temperature in town could reach +6C this afternoon.|
|Italy: March was a snowy month in the Italian Dolomites and ended with a dump of up to 40cm on Sunday. However, it is April, and whenever the sun comes out, temperatures jump. Aim high to be sure of skiing soft, wintry snow. Currently, Canazei reports 45-235cm of settled cover. Above the Aosta Valley, Cervinia reports 100-320cm of settled snow. Even here, the temperature has jumped in the sunshine. It’s +8C this afternoon in town.|
|Andorra: the Pyrenees are swathed in mild air at the moment. The Grand Valira – Andorra’s biggest ski area – reports 120-230cm of settled snow on its slopes, and a temperature of +5C at resort level.|
|Western USA: spring has a grip on the resorts of the American west at the moment, with daytime highs expected to reach +11C at resort level in Colorado by the end of the week. However, some resorts have seen snow: Snowbird in Utah reports 30cm of fresh on its upper slopes today, and 241cm of settled cover, mid-mountain. In Jackson Hole in Wyoming that figure is 152cm, and in Breckenridge, Colorado it’s 170cm. Meanwhile, above Lake Tahoe in California, Heavenly reports 122cm of settled cover, mid-mountain.|
|Western Canada: it was a mild and sunny Easter in Whistler, where the mid-mountain snowpack is now 241cm deep. Some wet snow flurries are expected over the next three days at altitude. Meanwhile, in Lake Louise, in Banff National Park, top temperature at the base of the trails is likely to be +5C. There, the snow is 165cm deep, mid-mountain.|