What we need across the Alps are much lower temperatures and SNOW. The good news is that we are going to get both – with knobs on. The mild weather is making a swift exit today to be replaced by some pretty chilly weather with the snow level plummeting to valley level.
And snow…we’re not sure just how much but it could be up to half a metre across a wide swathe of the Alps and welcome it is, too. In Austria we suspect there will be some pretty dismal rain in low-lying resorts today, but by this evening drops will turn to flakes. In St Anton we’re talking about some substantial snow arriving on Monday. However, after that there’s a danger of another thaw.
In France, we’re looking at a pretty snowy weekend with the mercury mercifully plunging. In Tignes on the Grande Motte it could drop to -18C – and that’s without windchill!
In fact the whole Alpine chain – including the Dolomites – should benefit to varying extents from this weather system.
The southern half of the Alps was rewarded with fresh snow last week. Madonna di Campiglio had 35cm, Selva had 30cm, and parts of the Engadin Valley – home to St Moritz – had up to half a metre – and it’s snowing again this weekend.
Over in the Pyrenees it’s a spring-like 9C and the sun is shining. There’s tons of snow and, for the moment, piste conditions remain nothing short of superb. Of course, these can’t last unless the temperature becomes more wintery. But right now, who cares? The Grand Tourmalet ski area in France Baqueira in Spain had some quite extraordinary snowfalls in mid-January.
Scandinavia, too, is getting some snow and Are in Sweden should pick up a few flakes to to add to their 70cm base – and it’s cold!
Across the Atlantic we’re looking to California this week where Sean Newson, one of our editors, is having loads of fun above the shores of Lake Tahoe. Heavenly picked up a bit of unexpected extra cover and conditions there right now are, well, just heavenly: “We had a bit of snow on Sunday and Monday after all. In secret spots where the wind had driven the snow there was perhaps 15cm of powder (see the Secrets of Heavenly Ski Resort feature). On Tuesday the sun came out, and it’s been shining ever since. The snow’s been soft and grippy and the fresh snow even made the bumps of Little Dipper a bit powdery. Perfect Californian bluebird days…” Tough, huh?
|France: Plenty of good skiing to be had everywhere with a return to powder conditions over the weekend. The avalanche risk is expected to rise to 4/5 by Sunday and enormous care should be taken on what at present is still a remarkably unstable base.Snow depths remain excellent at altitude and we should see some welcome improvements in the lower resorts. Tignes currently has 123cm at Le Lac and 278 cm on top of the Grande Motte. Above Val Thorens the snow is 125-235cm deep, and in Les Arcs it’s 100-197cm deep.
|Switzerland: Conditions are very similar to those in France at the moment. Currently, Andermatt has up to 90-400cm of settled snow, and Davos up to 60-124cm, while Verbier has 80cm at village level and 225cm up at Mont-Fort.
|Austria: In post-Hahnenkamm Kitzbuhelthere’s now 40cm in town and 140cm on the Horn. But those figures should change over the weekend with prolonged new snow forecast and a welcome drop in temperature to -4C on Saturday.Currently, high-altitude Obergurgl has 10-214cm of snow, Soll and the Skiwelt 635-135cm. St Anton has a respectable 60-170cm, but neighbouring Lech and Zurs it’s even snowier with 105-225cm.
|Italy: There’s been fresh snow at altitude in many Italian resorts over the last week – and the Dolomites have had some of the best of it. There, Selva reports 55-145cm of settled cover. Above the Aosta Valley, Cervinia has 40-205cm of settled snow on its slopes. But again we’ll hopefully see much more over the weekend.
|Andorra: See our main report. It’s been an extraordinary few weeks in the Pyrenees with some superb piste skiing. A thaw has arrived, but it is going to take a lot of sunshine to make inroads on a snowpack of this quality. Currently, the Grand Valira – Andorra’s biggest ski area – reports 80-180cm of snow on its slopes.
|Western USA: Vail, which has had a dry start to the winter has picked up over half a metre in the past week and now has powder conditions which is just well – that’s where I am headed this weekend!Currently, Kirkwood, California claims up to 260cm of settled cover. In Utah, Snowbird the snow report talks of 144cm, mid-mountain. Jackson Hole in Wyoming has 150cm mid-mountain and as they are saying in-resort: ‘Rendezvous Bowl has been deposited with wind and cloud driven snow creating a mix of soft powder and buttery smooth goodness.’
|Western Canada: Whistler is in for a mainly sunny weekend with the mid-mountain snow depth here at 185cm, but we should see a return to snowy weather early next week. Fernie has picked up 85cm in seven days and the snowpack is 246cm deep. Above Lake Louise it’s a cold -6C with 156cm in the Back Bowls.