It’s another bonus Snow Report, Snowfiends! Why? Because if you haven’t already seen our latest snow forecast, you should check out what’s heading to the Alps this weekend.
This is Saturday’s snow map.
And here is Sunday’s map.
If this forecast is anywhere near correct, there’s going to be over half a metre of snow in many places: and the white stuff will be falling at lowish altitudes, too. According to French forecasters Meteo Chamonix, it will be snowing down to 900m on Sunday evening, which is well below village level in most resorts.
Is this the start of winter? Well…not quite, not yet. Let’s not forget that early-November snowfalls can be followed by sharp thaws: and that’s exactly what we’ve seen this week, in the wake of the most recent snowfall (on Monday and Tuesday). Since then, the sun’s been out and temperatures have jumped. Yesterday, in France, the freezing point was up to a lofty 3400m.
What’s more, there’s a consensus forming in the mid-range forecasting charts that next week will see high pressure settle over western Europe, bringing unseasonably mild temperatures with it. So once the skies clear, we can expect to see the snowline retreating up hill again.
HOWEVER, it’s also worth remembering how many times we’ve seen snow in the Alps this autumn. In the last fortnight, there have have been at least four separate snowy episodes, and whilst the snowline has been yo-yoing about down in the valleys, a decent base is developing at altitude: as we saw from Micheal Neumann’s gorgeous photos from the Hintertux, taken on October 31.
It’s also worth noting that, after next week’s sunshine, the weather charts are predicting a return to cold snowy weather around November 20. Of course, that kind of forecast can only be classed as a “possible outcome” at the moment. The high pressure could stick. But if, at the end of next week, it looks as though more snow is coming, it’ll be time to get excited. The Alpine ski season could be off to a flying start.
Here’s a brief survey of the webcams today, starting with Verbier in Switzerland. By way of a season preview, the resort is opening a single piste – the Lac des Vaux, off the backside of Attelas – this weekend. That’s not a lot of skiing, but if the expected snow does fall then they’ll be making big, fat powder turns there by close of play on Sunday.
Meanwhile, pictured below is the scene above Les Deux Alpes in France. The resort is currently closed after a ten-day season preview on its glacier at the end of October. But all the same – and despite the mild temperatures this week – the snowline is looking pretty low for early November. It should be lower still be Monday.
And below is the scene earlier today at Obergurgl in Austria, which will open for the season next Thursday, November 14. Conditions are good up there, clearly – and will be even better by the end of the weekend.
Finally, this is how the Hintertux glacier was looking this morning. A sight for snow-starved eyes…
More resorts are opening up North America
It’s a big season for Breck: this winter sees the opening of Peak 6 in the resort, which is going to increase the skiable terrain in the resort by 23%. For the time being, though, the skiing will be more limited – with 82 acres on offer on Peak 8. There was 10cm of fresh snow in Breck on Monday night, and another 5cm on Wednesday – to add to the cover already laid by Mother Nature and the snow cannons. The groomed trails are in great shape as result. The outlook is now for dry and sunny weather over the weekend and into next week, with more snow to follow on November 14.
Today also sees the opening of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. There, the slopes are looking good here too, in the wake of 21cm of natural snow over the last week (plus lots of work from the snow cannons). The top temperature there yesterday was -6C! Brrrrrrrrr…
For more advice on where to ski in November and early-December check our our guide to the best resorts for early-season skiing.
|France: The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is open for skiing – and should stay that way right through to the opening of the entire ski area (scheduled for November 30). The glacier above Les Deux Alpes has now closed again, after its winter preview: the resort reopens full-time from November 30.
|Switzerland: You can ski on the glaciers above Zermatt and Saas Fee’s glacier. Saas-Fee’s snow report talks of up to 155cm of cover on its pistes. Engelberg’s glacier is closed until November 15. Meanwhile, Verbier will be opening this weekend for a quick winter preview.
|Austria: see our main report. The Austrian glaciers are in fantastic condition at the moment. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow report records cover, on-piste, up to 135cm deep. Next up for a winter opening is Obergurgl.
|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.
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.
|Western USA: See our main report. In Colorado, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are among several resorts now open. Breckenridge opens today. In California, the first lifts are running on Mammoth Mountain, too.
|Western Canada: Norquay in Banff National Park opened on November 1, with a limited offering of terrain. It’s joined today by Lake Louise. However, Sunshine Village has postponed its opening day.