Here’s something we haven’t seen much of since December: settled sunny weather. A ridge of high pressure is extending over Europe, and it’s due to stay there until the middle of next week at least. The Alps are expecting several days of dazzling sunshine as a result.
Today will still be fairly chilly – and the freezing level won’t rise much above 1500m across the northern half of the region. But it will be warming up after that – with balmy, spring-like conditions expected at the weekend, before temperatures drop back again next week. French forecasters Meteo Chamonix reckon the freezing point could briefly touch 3500m on Sunday.
After the extraordinary spell of turbulent weather we’ve had since Christmas, it’s quite a change. In January and February few resorts enjoyed more than two or three days of sunshine before the next storm system came piling in, and as a result most places are facing spring with plenty of snow on their slopes. The exception is the area of low-lying resorts north of Innsbruck which have missed out on most of the snowfall this winter. Their lower pistes are now ribbons of white against the grass. The snow on them will be thinning fast in the coming thaw.
With the weather warming up, it’s time to adopt spring skiing tactics. To avoid skiing on either icy or slushy pistes, you need to start following the sun around your ski area. Give it 20 minutes to warm up the snow on a piste before you ski it, and you’ll find a soft, grippy surface on top with plenty of firmness underneath. Ski each piste twice, and then move on. By 2pm most slopes will be pretty slushy, but that’s okay, because you can have a late lunch, and kick back on a restaurant terrace somewhere gorgeous.
Skiing in a high-altitude resort is a good idea, too. Check out our guide to the best resorts for spring skiing for tips on where to go.
Right, here’s a brief survey of the webcams and Facebook shots – starting with Les Deux Alpes, in France. In common with most French resorts, it was snowing here at the beginning of the week – check out our March 3 Snow Report for details. But the sun’s out now (the photo was taken yesterday, but the weather’s very similar today). The snowpack is currently 75-220cm deep.
Pictured below is Meribel, in the Three Valleys, today. The snow here is 141-175cm deep, on-piste.
Pictured below is the view from the top of the Mont Fort in Verbier, Switzerland, where the snow is currently 88-188cm deep, on piste.
Below is the scene in Madonna di Campiglio in the Brenta Dolomites of Italy. The resort has had a whopping 914cm of snow so far this winter, and reports settled cover of 250-308cm, on-piste.
Pictured below is high-altitude Obergurgl in Austria today, where the snow is 82-170cm deep.
Pictured below is Nassfeld in Austria, on the northern edge of the Dolomites, which reports snow 450cm deep on its upper slopes and 110cm on the lower pistes.
It’s sunny in the Pyrenees too. This is Soldeu, in the Grandvalira ski area of Andorra, where the snow is 140-270cm deep.
Fresh snow in Canada
In the western US and Canada, all the snowfall has been south of the border lately – but now, at last, Canada is beginning to catch up. Whistler reports 60cm of fresh snow in the last week, 24cm of which fell in the last 24hrs. Further east, Fernie has done well too, reporting 69cm in the last week and 34cm in the last 24hrs. Fernie has had a healthy 734cm of snow so far this winter – although that’s still some way short of Jackson Hole’s season total, down in Wyoming. It’s claiming 10.56cm so far this season, with 18cm in the last two days.
|France: if you saw our March 3 snow report you’ll know there was fresh snow in France at the beginning of the week – the last in a sequence of storms to cross the region, which has left the cover in great shape for the time of year. Now, with temperatures rising, it’s time to seek out the high-altitude resorts if you can. Currently, Tignes reports 132-230cm of settled snow on its pistes, and Val Thorens 155-255cm.|
|Switzerland: western Switzerland has been sharing in the snow which recently blessed the French Alps. There’s been snow in south too: last weekend, for example, both Zermatt and Saas-Fee were walloped by a storm which dropped up to a metre of the white stuff in a couple of days. In Saas-Fee the cover is now 150-429cm deep, on piste, as a result. Meanwhile, little Andermatt reports cover 115-400cm deep on its slopes, and Laax 35-160cm.|
|Austria: there was up to 15cm of snow on the higher slopes of the resorts north of Innsbruck overnight, but not enough to fundamentally alter their disappointing season. This contrasts sharply with the situation in the south, where Nassfeld is groaning under cover 110-450cm deep. Meanwhile, in the west St Anton reports snow depths of 55-140cm depending on altitude, which is a little underwhelming by the high standards of the Arlberg.|
|Italy: there’s no shortage of snow in the Italian resorts. However, in common with the rest of the Alps, it is going to warm up at the end of the week. Currently, Madesimo is reporting a settled snowpack of 300-500cm on its pistes. Meanwhile, in the Aosta Valley, Cervinia has 190-340cm of settled snow, and Corvara in the Dolomites 170-310cm.|
|Andorra: there was a good dump of snow across the Pyrenees on Friday night and Saturday, and more at the beginning of the week. As a result, Soldeu reports 140-270cm of settled snow on the pistes. Across the border in Baqueira in Spain, the snowpack is 205-355cm deep. The outlook now is very similar to the Alps: spring-like and sunny.|
|Western USA: there’s plenty of snow in the western resorts of America, thanks to a recent run of storms, though temperatures are rather mild. Currently, in Wyoming, Jackson Hole has 284cm of settled cover, mid-mountain, Breckenridge in Colorado has 221cm, and in Utah, Snowbird reports 267cm.|
|Western Canada: the fresh snow has been very welcome in tWhistler, which now reports 241cm of settled cover, mid-mountain. Inland, in Banff National Park, Lake Louise has had 19cm of new snow in the last week and reports 161cm of settled cover. Today’s temperature is expected to be a balmy +1C, up from -13C on Monday. Meanwhile Revelstoke reports 56cm of snow in the last week and settled mid-mountain cover of 237cm.|
March 6, 2014@welove2ski
Amazing weather in the Alps today. Lots more sunshine to come, too…