Well, fancy that. After all the uncertainty of the recent forecasts it has started snowing in the Alps, after all.
But I don’t want to stoke anyone’s hopes too high, because the white stuff is rather localised.
Last night, for example, the northern Tirol saw 5-10cm of snow. The Skiwelt was one of the main beneficiaries, and scene there is much more wintery now. Almost all the snow here is man-made: but it does have a softer, more natural top layer now.
Here’s how it’s looking above Soll, where the snow is 25-50cm deep, depending on altitude.
Meanwhile, in the south-western Alps, it looks like a proper storm is brewing. Check out the Welove2ski’s snow forecast for today.
And this is the snow forecast for tomorrow.
If the forecast holds good, the resorts of Piemonte and the Aosta Valley in Italy will get the lion’s share of the storm – although some snow has already fallen the other side of the international border.
I’m the Three Valleys at the moment, as a guest of Val Thorens and the tour operator Crystal. This morning, we woke to light snow and strong winds, blasting over the mountains from the south. The wind has scoured the exposed slopes; but in more sheltered spots the pistes have a coating of soft, grippy snow.
Here’s how it was looking earlier on in the midst of a particularly squally blast.
Once the wind dies down and the new snow is groomed into the pistes, there will be some lovely skiing here, though I don’t think we’ll get enough to fill in the off-piste routes. (Currently the snow, on-piste, is 60-135cm deep).
Conditions are very similar today in Val d’Isere, as you can see below. We can expect a little more snow here than in Val Tho, as it’s closer to the Italian border. Val d’Isere currently has 33-137cm of snow, on-piste.
That said, the real dumps will be in Italy – in resorts such as Pila, pictured below, where there’s already 20-200cm of settled snow.
Serre Chevalier should see a little snow today too. Here’s how it was looking at lunchtime. The snow here is currently 30-182cm deep.
It is of course great news that some resorts are getting snow before Christmas, but for the most part they’re the ones who already had decent early-season cover. It’s a great shame the snow is not more widespread.
That’s not to say the rest of the Alps are snowless. Regular followers of our Snow Reports will know that many other areas (for example, Ischgl in Austria and the Dolomiti Superski area in Italy) have made up for Mother Nature’s shortfall by working their snow cannons hard. But still, natural snow is almost always softer and grippier than the man-made stuff, and everyone would a bit of help from the skies.
What’s more, there are a few low-lying areas in the north-west that are really struggling – notably the Portes du Soleil in France.
Here’s how it was looking at lunchtime in Ischgl – where two of our editors are heading over Christmas.
Once the skies clear in the south-west, high pressure looks set to reassert its dominance over the region. There may be snow in Austria on Christmas day, but this is far from certain, and the general trend is for mild and sunny weather.
Thank heavens for snow cannons and high-altitude resorts!
Meanwhile in North America…
If you’re dreaming of deep powder snow, you’d better look away now. Because in the American Rockies they’ve had plenty.
This was the Beaver Creek snow stake on Saturday morning. It measures the snow that’s fallen every 24 hours – in inches not centimetres.
This was Vail on Saturday.
And this was Jackson Hole in Wyoming on Friday. Jackson Hole has had 207 inches/525cm of snow so far this season, and reports its deepest-ever base of settled snow in Rendezvous Bowl.
The action has snow switched north of the border. In Canada, Whistler is expecting half a metre of snow by Thursday.