Merry Christmas, Snowfiends! May all your holidays be long, relaxing, and thickly-strewn with good will, mince pies and the odd skiing-related present.
And if you’re in the Alps at the moment…blimey, isn’t it warm? In high-altitude Tignes, the temperature is expected to hit +8C this afternoon. At the bottom of the lifts in freeride-friendly Hochfugen in the Tirol, it’s already +6C. Verbier is expecting a high of +7C at 2200m. What’s more, there was rain lower down at the weekend. You’ll have to ski at the very top of your lift system to find snow that hasn’t been affected by this nasty thaw.
Given how magnificently wintry the weather was two weeks ago in the Alps, it’s a disappointing start to the Christmas holidays. But let’s not forget that the cover is still exceptionally deep in most places, and there’s top-to-bottom skiing, on-piste, almost everywhere. What’s more, according to our snow forecast, the higher resorts are due a top-up of snow over the next three days. Temperatures are set cool down too: although some mid-range forecasts are predicting another thaw at the weekend.
Today, the sun’s out. Time to find a south-facing terrace, soak up some December sun, and wonder what Father Christmas will be bringing you tonight…
Here’s a quick tour of the region’s webcams.
In sharp contrast to the Alps, Scandinavia is in the freezer – on the other side of a steep temperature gradient that divides northern and southern Europe. In Are, Sweden today it’s -6C at the bottom of the lifts and -12C at the top, and light snow is falling. It’s due to get colder later in the week, too. There was some stormy weather there on Friday – which left its mark on the resort, as you’ll see from the picture, below.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, California has been walloped by a meaty Pacific storm. By the close of play yesterday, Heavenly, at the southern end of Lake Tahoe, reported 90cm of fresh snow in 24 hours, Squaw’s snow report claimed a metre, and Kirkwood’s 110cm. There’s more snow to come over the next couple of days, too.
Needless to say, the resort film-makers have been busy. Isn’t it great the way that some resorts can produce such fantastic clips at such notice – to help stoke the fires of our skiing passion? It’s a shame the Alpine resorts don’t do the same…
Here’s the video from Heavenly.
The good news for the Rocky-Mountain resorts is that this storm is going to push inland, and bring snow to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
It’s been a snowy week in western Canada, too. Whistler reports 139cm of snow in the last seven days, and Fernie a gob-smacking 166cm. If this weather keeps up, it’s heading for a record-breaking season.
|France: See our main report. There was heavy snow last week across the French Alps – and there ‘s more of the white stuff in the forecast from tomorrow. But it’s the power of the current thaw that that’s the real talking point at the moment. The cover almost everywhere is unusually deep for Christmas – well over two metres deep at the top of the higher-altitude ski areas such as Tignes and Val Thorens. But the quality of the snow has been spoilt by the warm temperatures. Aim high for the best skiing surface.|
|Switzerland: What’s true of France is also true of Switzerland. Skiers should aim high today, and stick to shady slopes if they want top-notch cover. From tomorrow, new snowfall will make visibility above the treeline difficult and it’ll be raining lower down for a bit, until the temperatures start to drop. Currently, Andermatt has the deepest cover we know of: 96-350cm depending on altitude.|
|Austria: The snow didn’t fall so heavily in Austria in early December as it did in Switzerland or France. But the cover is still good for the time of year – very good in the Arlberg resorts of St Anton and Lech, and even better above Obergurgl, where there’s 99-211cm of settled snow. Lower down, the thaw hasn’t been as pronounced as in France. In the Skiwelt, there’s still 55cm of settled snow on the lower runs and 110cm higher up.|
|Italy: Parts of Italian Dolomites got a welcome top-up of snow on December 20: as a result, Canazei reports settled depths of up to 135cm on its pistes. Further west, Cervinia reports 185cm of snow, mid-mountain. It is however “hard-packed” in the mornings at the moment as a result of daytime thaws and overnight refreezing – which is how you’ll find the snow almost everywhere in the Alps today.|
|Andorra: The Pyrenees are suffering in the thaw – which is a shame given the resorts there got off to such a good start in mid-December. In the Grand Valira ski area depths are down slightly: the cover is currently 20-60cm deep, on-piste.|
|Western USA: See our main report. California is the place to be right now, thanks to the latest Pacific storm. But hopes are high that the weather will move inland and freshen up the slopes in the Rockies, too. Winter there got off to a slow start, and many are still playing catch up. Currently, in Kirkwood, California, the cover is 162-228cm deep. Snowbird in Utah has 142cm of settled snow, mid-mountain, Jackson Hole in Wyoming 110cm, and Vail, Colorado 48cm.|
|Western Canada: There’s been some fabulous skiing in western Canada this week. Whistler has had 139cm of snow this week and resports a mid-mountain base of 218cm. Fernie’s reports a whopping 166cm of snow in the last week, and a settled snow pack of 232cm. In Banff National Park Sunshine Village reports a settled snow base of 137cm, and 46cm of snow this week.|