After the magnificent winter preview of November 6-11, the weather in the Alps is throwing a tantrum. Strong southerly winds are blasting over the ridges and passes, temperatures are up, and there’s rain at lower elevations, especially at the western end of the Italian Alps.
The weather is likely to stay wild, mild and murky for much of the week.
At least at higher altitudes the precipitation is falling as snow: but given the low cloud and driving winds, skiing won’t be much fun for the next few days. Currently, only a small number of ski areas are open for business. Some, including the Stubai glacier, have suspended operations today because of the wild weather.
As you can see from our current snow forecast for the Alps, some of the highest peaks and ridges could see a couple of metres of snow over the next five days. Here’s today’s snow map. Those for Tuesday to Friday continue in a similar vein.
Generally, it’ll be a little cooler in the western Alps than in the east. In Val d’Isere the freezing point is expected to reach 2500m tomorrow. In Lech, Austria it’ll be at 3500m.
In other words, this isn’t the best preparation for the next wave of resort openings. But the meteorological madness will be over by the weekend, when we’re likely to see some sunshine and cooler (but not frigid) temperatures. In the meantime, high winds won’t be doing the off-piste runs any favours; but above about 2000m, you can still expect good piste-skiing – thanks to a combination of the pre-season snow, and hard work by the snow-making crews in many resorts.
Among the resorts opening at the weekend are Val d’Isere, Ischgl and Madonna di Campiglio. Val Thorens opened on November 19: but its Grande Premiere party takes place next weekend too. St Anton, Lech and Les 2 Alpes are among those opening on December 2 or 3.
Pictured below is Tignes, where the settled snow is currently 40-110cm deep, depending on altitude.
This is Val Thorens, which has 90-150cm of snow, on-piste
Below is how it’s looking today on the Pitztal glacier in the Tirol.
Meanwhile in North America…
It’s been a disappointing start to winter in the American Rockies. Many resorts have had to hold back their opening dates because of the mild, snowless conditions. One victim of the snow drought has been the World Cup ski racing, originally scheduled for Beaver Creek, Colorado – which has now been switched to Val d’Isere in the Alps.
But just in the nick of time – as Thanksgiving approaches – Mother Nature is getting her act together, and a spell of snowy weather is expected. The Salt Lake City resorts of Utah are expecting maybe 40cm of snow at altitude by Thursday, with more to come at the weekend and next week. In Colorado, they’ll see perhaps 30cm in some southern resorts by Thanksgiving and slightly less in the central and northern resorts.
It’s snowing up in Wyoming, too: here’s Jackson Hole this morning.
And this is Crested Butte in Colorado.
In western Canada, the weather’s looking up, too. As a result, Whistler is opening on Wednesday for the start of the season. Here’s the top of the Whistler gondola today, after 15cm of overnight snow.
|France: Val Thorens is now open for the season, alongside Tignes. Meanwhile the Grand Montets in the Chamonix valley is running its lifts for weekend skiing, as is Alpe d’Huez. Both will open full-time from December 3. Next up is Val d’Isere which opens on Saturday.|
|Switzerland: the high-altitude slopes above both Zermatt and Saas-Fee should see a lot of snow this week. Other resorts now open include Les Diablerets, Engelberg, Davos, Laax and (at weekends in November) Verbier. The snow on the Allalin glacier above Saas-Fee is currently 122cm deep.|
|Austria: next weekend sees the opening of Ischgl, which will take its place alongside a growing number of resorts already running – including Obergurgl and , as well as the Hintertux, Pitztal, Molltaler, Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn, Rettenbach and Kaunertal glaciers. Currently, the cover on the Hintertux is up to 105cm deep.|
|Italy: The glaciers above Passo Tonale and Val Senales are open for skiing, and much of Cervinia is now open too. The heavy rain isn’t helping with preparations in the lower resorts, though. As is the case all over the Alps, aim high if you want to ski pre-Christmas.|
|Andorra: no skiing is currently on offer in Andorra. However, the Grandvalira ski area will be opening on Saturday.|
|Western USA: see our main report – there’s snow falling in the Rockies, just in time for Thanksgiving, though the amount of terrain open in most resorts for the holiday will be limited. Heavier snow is expected next week, which will get the season back on track.|
|Western Canada: in Banff National Park Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are both open. Mount Norquay is delaying the start of its season till December 2. Whistler opens on Wednesday.|