Even if a single flake of snow wasn’t expected between now and December 1, this would still go down as a memorable November in the Alps. Anyone who follows our Snow Report will know that the white stuff has been seen regularly since late October – and in considerable quantities. There have been bluebird powder days. Lifts and pistes have opened early. And the early-season buzz has been loud and strong.
Sadly, the choice of resorts in which to take advantage of all late autumn/early winter snow has been limited. Admittedly, nearly every glacier ski area has its lifts running: and in response to half a metre of snow on November 10, Tignes opened its Double M piste back to Val Claret last Monday. Verbier and Alpe d’Huez have opened for weekend previews too. However, as far as I know, Obergurgl in Austria is the only big ski area without a glacier to be spinning its lifts full-time at the moment. The resort opened on November 14 – and this video gives you a taste of how good conditions were on Saturday.
Just looking at it makes my legs twitch…
And now…MORE SNOW
Fortunately, more resorts will be coming on line over the next ten days – starting with Val Thorens on Thursday: and right on cue, Mother Nature has lined up more of the white stuff. Here’s today’s snow forecast for the Alps.
The Alps are currently being squeezed between two areas of low pressure – a cold one coming down from the north, and milder, more humid one moving up from the Gulf of Genoa in the south. Normally the mixing of cold and humid air like this is a recipe for snow – although exactly in what quantity it will fall is hard to predict. But what’s already clear is that the wintry spell will last until the end of the week, and be widespread. Currently, it looks as though the west will get the lion’s share.
What’s more, it’ll be settling at low altitudes too – once the cold air arrives later today. French forecaster Meteo Chamonix reckons the freezing point will sink from 2300m this morning all the way down to 500m overnight.
In fact, it’s already been snowing at altitude, along the Italian border with France, Switzerland and Austria border. Pictured, below, was the centre of Val d’Isere this morning.
This was Montgenevre this morning.
Below, is how the hamlet of Findeln near Zermatt was looking at about the same time.
Meanwhile, pictured below is Obergurgl this afternoon.
Clearly, anyone skiing once the skies clear is going to have a November session they won’t easily forget.
That said, the immediate outlook beyond the weekend is altogether less snowy. Consensus is forming amongst the mid-range forecasting models that high pressure will dominate over western Europe next week, and it could get quite mild again. We’ll keep you posted about that.
There’s been snow in the Pyrenees, too
The Pyrenees have had a dump too. This morning saw an announcement from Baqueira Beret that it’s going to open a week early, thanks to 50-80cm of snow this weekend. Skiing in the Pyrenees from November 23: it’s not often I get to write that…
Snow in America…
Here’s a rather natty Saturday video from Breckenridge, after its first helping of snow. Another 20cm dropped the next day.
And here’s a taste of how it was in Aspen…
With the Thanksgiving holiday on the way, the snow is most welcome – although according to local snow supremo Joel Gratz, the weather will turn milder this week.
…and snow in Canada
Pictured, below, is Lake Louise on Sunday – during a weekend that saw 19cm of new snow. The mercury there isn’t expected to rise above -9C today.
|France: The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is open for skiing – as well as the Double M piste all the way back down to Val Claret. Whenever the skies clear between storms, conditions are superb. Alpe d’Huez is now open for weekend skiing and in the Three Valleys, the first pistes at Val Thorens open on November 21. Meanwhile, Les Deux Alpes is open full-time from November 30.|
|Switzerland: You can ski on the glaciers above Zermatt, Saas Fee and Engelberg. Meanwhile, Verbier is opening every weekend until the start of the mainstream season.|
|Austria: the mainstream ski season in Austria is underway – thanks to the opening of Obergurgl today, November 14. There’s also good skiing on offer on the Austrian glaciers: although the weather won’t be great for the next couple of days. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers.|
|Italy: the glacier above the Val Senales/Schalstal in the South Tyrol is open for skiing, and the lifts above Cervinia are also running full time, offering access to the glacier above Zermatt, and now the celebrated Ventina piste as well.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.|
|Western USA: In Colorado, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Breckenridge are among the growing number of resorts now open. In California, the first lifts are running on Mammoth Mountain, too. Many more resorts will open this weekend, in preparation for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Generally in the west the cover is pretty good for the time of year.|
|Western Canada: Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village in Banff National Park are now open for skiing. Whistler is open too. The best conditions so far are in the Rockies – though they’re not as memorable as they were in November 2012.|