We should be thankful for small mercies, I suppose. There’s some snow in the Alpine forecast!
It’s not exactly going to smother the region in a thick blanket of white, and the line between rain and snow will be quite high for the time of year: 2000m in the west, and a little lower in the east. It’s also unlikely to reach into Italy, where most resorts are still waiting for their first significant winter storm. But still, it will refresh the pistes a little in the north in the high-altitude resorts.
Here’s our snow forecast for Wednesday.
Annoyingly, the snow will be followed by yet more sunshine, and a noticeable rise in temperatures, especially in the west. Sadly, with Christmas approaching, there’s still no sign of a decisive shift towards more wintry weather.
That said, conditions are generally better than they were this time last year. It’s been cold enough to run the snow cannons and lay down pistes in most resorts. Across the northern Alps, between the Arlberg in Austria and the northern French Alps, there’s snow across the peaks, too. But in Italy as well as central and eastern Austria, the runs are often ribbons of white against the grass. In the lower resorts the coming mild spell won’t help preparations for the festive season one bit.
Here’s how it’s looking in Ischgl, in Austria this morning – a good place to be in a snow drought, thanks to its excellent snow-making system.
Generally, the Tarentaise in France (home to Courchevel, Val d’Isere and Les Arcs, among others) looks pretty white still, above 1600m on north-facing slopes – although the skiing surface on-piste is firm, especially at the beginning and end of the day. Make sure your edges have been sharpened before you get stuck in, and don’t set your heart on skiing much off-piste. For the most part, the snow is too thin to cover the rocks away from the groomed snow, although some sheltered slopes and couloirs did get filled in during November’s storms, and if they’re high and north-facing, could still be skiable. It’s best to hire an experienced local guide who’ll know if there’s any good stuff left in your resort.
Meanwhile, here’s how it’s looking in high-altitude Cervina. It may not look it, but this is good cover for an Italian ski resort at the moment.
Remember: there is a chance this sunny weather could continue to dominate conditions in the Alps into the new year. So if you’re laying plans now for January, aim high.
Meanwhile, in Canada and America…
If you want to know where all the white stuff has gone this month, look west. Right across the west-coast and Rocky-Mountain resorts of Canada and America there have been moderate to heavy snowfalls over the last week. At times, temperatures have been mild, and the precipitation has fallen as rain, but the overall effect has been amazing.
Here’s how it was looking in Whistler yesterday. The resort had 39cm of new snow on its upper slopes on Saturday night, and a whopping 139cm over the last week. Daytime highs up top reached -4C. Although the weather is now drying out, it’s going to stay cold.
Meanwhile, pictured below was the scene in Northstar in California yesterday – as another cold and wintry storm blew in. The Tahoe region was hit by heavy snow on Thursday night and Friday, and several resorts, including Heavenly and Kirkwood, clocked up 60cm in 24 hours. Yesterdays blizzards were expected to dump another 20-45cm on top of that.
There was snow inland, too. In Colorado, Keystone picked up a surprise 30cm of new snow on Saturday night. Pictured below were the rather mouthwatering conditions when the sun came out on Sunday.
British freeskier James “Woodsy” Woods picked up 5th place in yeasterday’s Slopestyle final.
There’ll be more snow this week, especially across the American Rockies. C’mon guys – share out some of your bounty, will you?
I’ll be back with a full snow report on Thursday: from Warth-Schrocken in Austria.