The first half of spring in the Alps was characterised by balmy temperatures and endless days of sunshine. The second half, by contrast, is becoming a lot more changeable.
Regular followers of the Snow Report will know that there was heavy snow last weekend, with several high-altitude ski areas receiving an extra 40cm of the white stuff. Now, our Snow Forecast for the Alps is predicting further snowfall across the central Alps, with parts of Switzerland, Austria and Italy due to get a 30cm top-up on Sunday and Monday.
It’s going to get much cooler, too. French forecaster Meteo Chamonix predicts a drop in the freezing point from 2700m today to 1800m on Sunday. For a time, the new snow will settle even lower than that.
Further periods of snow, coupled with cool temperatures, are expected in the middle of next week.
Which means that anyone heading out to the Alps next week for an end-of-season ski is going to feel like they’ve taken a big step back into winter. Only a handful of high-altitude resorts and glacier ski areas will be open, and up there they’ll be welcomed by a coating of fresh, cold and creamy snow. Visibility is likely to be less than brilliant, but at least the lack of sunshine should keep the snow powdery for longer. Even when the sun does come out, and starts to moisten the lower slopes, conditions will still be wintry up at 3000m.
Right, onto a survey of today’s webcams and Facebook shots. Today, spring is still in control of conditions at village level (and there’s a threat of thunderstorms developing in the afternoon). Up high, however, skiers are still enjoying the soft, cold snow that fell at the weekend.
Let’s start with the glacier in Les Deux Alpes, in France, which closes on April 26 – before reopening on June 26 for its vigorous summer skiing season. Up here, the snow is currently up to 210cm deep.
Pictured, below, are the snow-sure slopes of Val Thorens which are holding up remarkably well, given the long, warm spring. The resort closes on May 11 and the snow is currently 75-180cm deep.
Below is Cervinia in Italy, which shares its ski area with neighbouring Zermatt. The resort saw heavy snow at the weekend and closes on May 4. However, you’ll be able to ski on the glacier in Zermatt after that, and the lifts reopen in Cervinia on June 28. Currently, the snow here is 40-330cm deep, on-piste.
Pictured, below is the Presena Glacier at Passo Tonale in Italy, where the snow is up to six metres deep, following the memorable winter in northern Italy.
Below, is the scene at Obergurgl in Austria, which has 28-143cm of snow on its pistes and closes on May 4.
Finally, here’s a taste of corduroy on the Hintertux glacier skiing area, at the top end of the Zillertal in Austria. There’s up to four metres of settled snow here and the slopes remain open for skiing all year.
Just look at the Easter they had in Lake Louise…
Meanwhile, south of the border, Colorado snow guru Joel Gratz is forecasting a snowy Saturday night and Sunday – with 25cm+ of the white stuff expected at altitude. That should make April 27, the last day of the season in Breckenridge, a memorable one. This bustling, fun-loving ski town has plenty to celebrate, having notched up a mighty 11.15m of snow during the course of the winter. A powder day will be the perfect way to bow out.
|France: see main report. The weather is spring-like for now, but winter will be making a comeback at the weekend. That will be much too late for most ski resorts which have already shut their lift systems, or will be doing so on Sunday – but in a handful of high-altitude resorts still open, it should signal the start of memorable week. Currently, Val d’Isere (which closes on May 4) reports 24-125cm of settled snow on its pistes. On the Grands Montets above Chamonix the snow report records 65-205cm of cover, on-piste. The lifts here will also be closing on May 4.|
|Switzerland: The area around Saas-Fee and Zermatt saw heavy snow at the weekend, and should see plenty more next Sunday and Monday. In Zermatt, the settled cover is over 250cm deep on the glacier. Meanwhile, Verbier reports cover that is up to 141cm deep. However, the home run back into town is now closed. The ski season here ends on May 4.|
|Austria: up high, the cover is still good in Austria – thanks to the recent snow. Currently, Obergurgl reports 28-143cm of settled snow on its pistes, and the Stubai glacier up to 365cm.|
|Italy: many of the lower ski areas long ago shut their lifts. However, at altitude, there’s still plenty of snow. Currently, in the Aosta Valley, Cervinia has 40-330cm of settled cover on its pistes. Meanwhile on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale there’s still 550-600cm of settled snow, after an exceptional winter.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are now closed.|
|Western USA: see our main report. The season is winding down fast in America – although there’s no lack of cover in resorts that are still open. In Utah, for example, Snowbird currently has 256cm of settled snow, mid-mountain. Other ski areas that will stay open into May include Timberline Lodge in Oregon, Mammoth in California and Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado.|
|Western Canada: Whistler is expecting snow showers on its upper slopes and reports a mid-mountain snowpack 195cm deep, mid-mountain. They’ll be skiing in the resort until May 26. Meanwhile, in Lake Louise, the mid-mountain snowpack is 204cm deep, mid-mountain.|