Do you remember the long hot spring of 2014? The one that started in the Alps in early March and lasted until the middle of April? This week it’s going to seem like a distant memory. We’re already in the grip of one snowstorm – with accumulations of 20-50cm expected by the time it clears tonight. According to French forecast Meteo Chamonix, it will cold enough for the snow to settle down to 1500m, too.
There’s going to be a little more snow on Wednesday – and then, on Friday, the wind’s going to swing round into the north west and the weather will get even colder and windier. There’s likely to be more snow too. It’ll be quite a send-off for the resorts of Val d’Isere, Cervinia and Obergurgl – all of which are closing next weekend, on May 4.
Here’s today’s snow forecast for the Alps…
And this is how the forecast is looking for Friday, May 2.
Clearly, anyone currently skiing one of the high-altitude resorts or glaciers will have a frustrating day today. Up there, low cloud and snow will reduce visibility almost to zero. But once the skies clear – oh my. The refreshed pistes are going to be gorgeous, especially up near 3000m. Off-piste, there’ll be powder to ski too – although great caution is needed as the avalanche risk is already considerable in many places and could rise higher as the snow continues to fall. There’s the added problem of a very thin snowpack between 2500 and 2000m. Powder hounds could pick up a few gouges on their skis from hidden rocks if they’re not careful.
Next week, it looks as though high pressure and sunshine will return to the region.
Here’s a quick survey of the day’s webcams, starting with Tignes in France, which is open until May 11. Up on the glacier, there’s been 15cm of fresh snow so far. Settled snow depths, on-piste, range from just 15cm to 210cm.
Pictured below is the white-out this morning in Val Thorens. It too shuts on May 11 – and although there’s no visibility today, skiers will be delighted by the arrival of fresh snow. 20cm has fallen so far, and the settled snowpack, on-piste, is 75-180cm.
Pictured below is Cervinia in Italy – which shares its ski area with Zermatt in Switzerland. Cervinia may be closing on Sunday, but you’ll be able to ski on the glacier in Zermatt after that. Today, there’s 40cm of fresh snow up top, and settled depths, on-piste, range between 55 and 370cm.
Below is Obergurgl in Austria, where there’s 15cm of fresh snow on the upper slopes and 24-134cm of the white stuff packed down on the pistes. The last day of skiing here is May 4.
Fresh snow in the Rockies too
In North America, it’s been snowing too. The vast majority of ski resorts closed immediately of Easter, but a handful have still been spinning their lifts – including Breckenridge, Colorado, which finally bowed out yesterday, shutting its lifts at the end of a memorable season. As of yesterday morning it had clocked up a whopping 11.16 metres of snow and there was more falling during the day.
Colorado wasn’t the only place to receive snow from the storm. California got it first, on Friday night. Most resorts in the Tahoe area were already closed, but Squaw and Kirkwood had kept their lifts running till yesterday. Squaw notched up a mighty 81cm of fresh as a result. Kirkwood had 71cm, and posted this tasty little video on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in Utah, Snowbird had a superb day yesterday, having notched up 40cm of fresh snow since Friday. Here, the resort lifts will be running into May at least.
|France: see our main report. Winter has made a comeback in the Alps, and once the skies clear there’s going to be some memorable late-season skiing. Only a handful of French resorts are now open, however. Val d’Isere (which closes on May 4) is one of them, and
reports 15-120cm of settled snow on its pistes. On the Grands Montets above Chamonix, the snow report records 64-225cm of cover, on-piste. The lifts here will also be closing on May 4.
|Switzerland: The area between Zermatt and Verbier is seeing heavy snow as a result of the current storm – and there should be plenty more at the end of the week. What a way for Verbier to end the season (it closes on May 4)! There, the snow is 5-160cm deep depending on altitude.|
|Austria: the fresh snow has reached Austria too – with more to come on Friday. High-altitude Obergurgl closes on Sunday, but there’ll still be skiing on the glaciers after that. Up there, the cover is in great condition as a result of the late-season snow. For example, the Stubai glacier has 20cm of fresh powder today and settled cover up to 365cm deep on the pistes.|
|Italy: In Cervinia the cover on the higher slopes is getting deeper and deeper in the wake of the all the recent snow – in fact, at 370cm off-piste, it’s nearly a metre deeper than it was at the beginning of the month. 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: the season is winding down fast in America – although there’s no lack of cover in resorts still open. In Utah, for example, Snowbird currently has 271cm of settled snow mid-mountain, and fresh powder off-piste. 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: there’s been fresh snow in Canada as well as America – although not in quite the same quantities. Whistler for example reports 25cm of new snow this week. Its mid-mountain snowpack is currently 201cm deep. They’ll be skiing in the resort until May 26. Meanwhile, in Lake Louise, the mid-mountain snowpack is 204cm deep, mid-mountain. The resort reports 26cm of snow in the last seven days.|