The ski season may be winding down in the Alps: but that doesn’t mean it has to stop snowing.
The white stuff is once again in the forecast across the region – as you can see from this morning’s Alpine snow forecast (above). In fact, it’s already falling. I write this having just skied soft pistes coated with 5-10cm of powder on the higher runs in Val Thorens in the Three Valleys. Judging by the forecast, as much as half a metre may have settled in resorts on the Franco-Italian border by Wednesday evening.
The only problem will be finding a patch of sunlight in which to ski it. In the western Alps it looks as though Wednesday offers the best chance of good visibility: but for the rest of the week skiing by sense of smell will be the name of the game – as weather front after weather front piles in from the west.
Further east, there’s more chance of clearer skies, especially midweek.
If you are planning a last blast – taking advantage of dirt-cheap last-minute discounts – then for goodness sake target the highest ski resort you can find. Up top, above 2500m, the snow is still soft and wintry. Below that level its quality has been affected by the see-sawing temperatures typical of spring in the Alps. First thing, it’s hard and icy – and then, even if the sun doesn’t come out, it’s soft and sugary by late morning. At the end of the day the lower runs are almost unskiable.
There is a lot of pleasure to be had from skiing these conditions – timing your arrival so that you ski each slope just as the snow softens, but before it gets too slushy. But you need to know your ski area well – and be quick on your feet. It’s far easier just to stay high and ski cover that is still wintry.
It’s going to get warmer at the end of the week, too. By Thursday, the freezing point will be well above 2000m.
Here’s a brief survey of today’s webcams.
Sunshine in Scandinavia
Meanwhile, up north, the sun’s out – as it has been for much of the late winter. Below, is how the main terrain park in Are, Sweden was looking this morning. On piste, the snow is around 65cm deep, and it’s around 0C at the bottom of the lifts, despite the sunshine. It is likely to warm up later this week, and there could be rain lower down, but there will be fresh snow on the upper slopes of the Areskutan, too.
A Big Storm is About to Hit Colorado
After a couple of weeks of spring weather, many resorts in Colorado are about to be walloped by a meaty storm. Joel Gratz of Open Snow reckons some resorts could see 45cm of snow in 24 hours, although 12-20cm is more likely in most resorts. Here too, the season is winding down. Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat are among the resorts closing on Sunday, April 14. However, Arapahoe Basin is planning to stay open until June 2.
|France: see our main report. There’s still some great skiing to be had at altitude in France, on fresh, wintry snow. Lower down, the cover is subject to a daily cycle of melting, followed by an overnight refreezing. This week, good visibility is going to be in short supply. Val Thorens’ snow report talks of 155-355cm of cover. In Tignes the snow’s 140-307cm deep.|
|Switzerland: it’s not as murky in Switzerland as in France today – but there will be less snow, too. As is the case everywhere in the Alps at the moment, you must aim high if you want to hear cold, squeaky snow beneath your skis. In Verbier, the snow is currently 65-275cm deep on-piste. Meanwhile in the east, St Moritz reports a settled snowpack of 20-160cm.|
|Austria: it’s cool, but not cold in the Austrian resorts that are still open for skiing. For example, high-altitude Obergurgl is expecting a top temperature of 0C today, and has 72-189cm of settled snow. St Anton reports 60-230cm of settled cover on its pistes, and is expecting a top temperature of +6C.|
|Italy: the ski season is winding down quickly in Italy now that Easter is over, with only a handful of high-altitude ski areas due to remain open after Sunday. Currently, Cervinia reports 80-310cm of settled snow, and today saw a top temperature of +2C in town.|
|Andorra: midwinter saw heavy snow in the Pyrenees, and the depth of the cover has allowed the resorts in Andorra to stay open longer than usual. In the Grand Valira – Andorra’s biggest ski area – the lifts will be spinning until April 28. The resort is claiming up to 230cm of settled snow on its pistes.|
|Western USA: the season is winding down in many western resorts – just as fresh snow blows in. Today, Snowbird in Utah reports 5cm of fresh on its upper slopes, and 231cm of settled cover, mid-mountain. It’s expecting up to 60cm of snow in the course of this week. In Breckenridge, Colorado, there’s 5cm of fresh snow this morning and the mid-mountain snowpack is 173cm deep. Meanwhile in California, Heavenly reports 10cm of fresh snow today.|
|Western Canada: once again, the Canadian Rockies are proving themselves a good bet for spring skiing. Lake Louise in Banff National Park reports 12cm of fresh snow in the last 48hrs and is expecting a high of just -6C today. The snowpack is 166cm deep, mid-mountain. Above Whistler, the mid-mountain snowpack is 242cm deep.|