Issued: 12th DECEMBER 2018
By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne
Our latest roundup of snow conditions around the world. Each section that follows below goes into detail country by country. Clicking the map thumbnail will take you to our dynamic snow forecast map for the latest detail (where you can also overlay live weather & reported conditions). Weather outlooks for Europe and North America can be found at the end of this roundup.
It’s been a remarkable week in the Alps with one of the biggest early December snowfalls in memory covering wide areas of the region. Resorts reported up to 80cm of snow falling in 24 hours in some cases and up to 1.4 metres of snow accumulating in others. Most of the snow fell between Saturday and Wednesday with the most intense period for many on Sunday and Monday.
It’s been an incredible week for fresh snow in Austria with the little resort of Flachauwinkl (50/150cm) topping the 7-day snowfall table with a remarkable 140cm (a few inches under five feet) of snowfall. Much of that fell between Sunday and Tuesday too. Plenty of internationally better-known ski centres saw big accumulations as well Saalbach 50/60cm – it may need to update its depth totals) also reported 140cm, 90cm (three feet) of that arriving over three days. Zell am See (0/115cm) got 116cm. Most other Austrian resorts reported 50-100cm so it’s not difficult to report the conditions almost everywhere are âpowder’ as shown in our snowfinder tool.
The sun is shining again after a snowy period in the French Alps too which saw resorts receiving up to 70cm of snow from Saturday to Monday. In most cases this was accompanied by strong winds on Sunday in particular, leading to the cancellation of the men’s slalom race at Val d’Isere (80/140cm). The snow fell down to the valley floor at most resorts although there are still reports of it being rather wet at lower elevations. Only about a quarter of French resorts are actually open at present a much lower proportion than in the other big four Alpine ski nations), but it’s set to change at the weekend with many big name areas including La Clusaz (Which will open the Balme ski slopes) opening. Alongside Tignes (80/140cm) and Val d’Isere, La Plagne (55/140cm) is posting the deepest base in France at present.
Swiss resorts have been among the big winners of the snowfall in the Alps this week. Arosa (50/120cm) reported 120cm (four feet) of fresh snow fell there over three days from Saturday to Tuesday and Andermatt (40/400cm) is now claiming the deepest snow base in the world and is the first to reach the 4-metre mark (or indeed the 3-metre mark). Its stats are double those of closest Swiss rival Zermatt (20-200cm) which reported a 50cm snowfall in 24 hours on Sunday- Monday. It still has one of the world’s biggest areas open at present with more than 200km of runs to enjoy across the Italian border. However Swiss areas are also posting high avalanche danger warnings in many areas off-piste and resorts including Davos (47/145cm) were closed by the extreme snow and wind combination on Sunday.
ITALY Italy has been a country divided this past week with heavy snow in the Alps to the west, but very little fresh snow in the Dolomites to the East. Here snow depths are typically still in the 10-30cm range with much of that being machine-made snow. That doesn’t seem to matter to the ski resorts there with hundreds of kilometres of slopes now open in the Dolomiti Superski area and the region about to host its annual World Cup races. Madesimo (65/250cm) has the country’s deepest base amongst its leading resorts with 30cm of fresh snow there in the past 72 hours so conditions are great. Actually, 250cm is one of the five deepest reported bases in the world at present.
It’s been snowing in the last 24 hours in the Pyrenees after a mostly dry week. Arcalis (25/40cm) has the highest percentage of its terrain open with more than half of its runs skiable but Grandvalira (5/35cm) has the most runs open – more than 30.
There’s not been a huge amount of fresh snowfall in Scandinavia this week, but more of the ski areas in the area have opened. Bjoirli (95/95cm), in the East of Norway, has reported the freshest snowfall (more than three times anywhere else in fact) with 45cm and now also have the deepest base in the region. Geilo (55/65cm) and Hemsedal (75/75cm) are the only two areas where the number of runs open has hit double figures. In Sweden Idre FjÃ¤ll (35/70cm) has the country’s deepest base and six runs open.
GERMANY Conditions have improved markedly in Germany as it took its share of at least some of the heavy snowfall in the Alps. The country’s highest slopes at Zugspitze (10/120cm) reported the biggest three-day accumulation of 80cm but many other areas reported 20-40cm of fresh snow cover.
There have been a few centimetres of snowfall in Bulgaria over the past few days but nothing like the huge falls in the Alps. There’s not a huge amount of terrain open yet but Bansko (5/60cm) and Pamporovo (50/60cm) do both have some runs open. The forecast for the week ahead is looking fairly snowy with another 10-25cm likely by this time next week.
Scottish slopes are slowly getting whiter and temperatures have been low, but for many it is just a dusting of snow, particularly on lower runs, and a bit of frost so far. Normally, therefore, there would be nothing open – just high ski touring terrain to hike up to, but this year the two TechnoAlpin all-weather snowmaking machines at Glencoe (0/10cm) and The Lecht (0/10cm) have allowed each to create thin tracks a few hundred metres long over the heather. Cairngorm has also bought and installed a similar machine but it’s not known when it will start operating.
The season is starting to build in Japan and conditions are turning increasingly wintery as snow depths start to build. The country’s best-known resort Niseko (70/150cm) on the northern island of Hokkaido has just passed then season-to-date snowfall figure of two metres (it’s had 209cm) and is enjoying its normal pattern of daily powder updates adding 5-15cm more most days now. At Nozawa Onsen (15/35cm) across the sea to the south, the current depth is much less but regular snowfall is forecast here too pretty much daily for the week ahead.
It has been a fairly quiet week in the US, at least compared to the snowy two months that preceded it, with few areas reporting more than 10-15cm. Conditions are generally very good across most of the country however and resort managers are finding it hard to conceal their delight. Yesterday Breckenridge (97/97cm) reported it was the earliest ever date that it had been able to open all of its mountains. Unusually too, three of the four areas claiming the deepest snow bases in the country are in North Carolina, topped by Appalachian Ski Mountain (122/193cm). The region that had been suffering until now was the Northwest of the country along the Pacific Coast with states like Washington and Alaska missing out on the good start with warm temperatures and little snowfall. That’s changing this week through with a huge snowstorm blowing in. Mt Baker (102/152cm) reports 101cm fell in 72 hours from Monday to Wednesday this week and it appears to be just getting started.
As with the USA, the further West you go in Canada right now the snowier it gets. Whistler Blackcomb (0/121cm) has had 63cm in the past 72 hours – that’s almost half as much as it had had in the past two months, and it’s looking like there’s at least a meters more, possibly double that, to come over the next week as âsnowmageddon’ hits. Other west coast resorts like Cypress (47/47cm) and Grouse (47/47cm) are also in the firing range. Revelstoke (139/139cm), a few hundred kilometers inland, had been faring better already and has one of the country’s deepest bases to date, but it too is seeing heavy snowfall. Further East into Alberta and right over to the Eastern side of the country in Quebec there’s only been 10cm or so fresh snow this week but early season conditions remain good.
Things have quietened down in the Alps after the big snowfalls in the first half of this week and that looks like the continuing trend for the week ahead. Although the weather is quietening down France looks like it will stay fairly snowy over the coming week with the southern French Alps set to receive up to 50cm more fresh snow over the next seven days, though more like 20-40cm for most. In the Northern Alps the totals are currently expected to be lower, perhaps 10-20cm Austria is looking much quieter too with current forecasts showing mostly clear days and accumulations of 5-20cm for the week ahead Switzerland should see several more snow-free days before the next front moves into the country, predicted to be on Sunday/Monday when further 20-30cm accumulations are possible Italy should also get modest snowfalls over the coming week with Thursday and Monday currently looking the snowiest for most. Accumulations of up to 10cm are forecast in the Dolomites but nearer 20cm in the Aosta Valley to the west. In the Pyrenees, it has just started snowing again after a dry week. The snowfall should continue into Friday and total 5-15cm accumulations across the region. For Scotland, it looks unsettled with precipitation at the weekend falling as snow on the mountains. It seems unlikely there’ll be enough to open any runs though and milder weather is unfortunately in the forecast too.
The forecast for North America is for the big storm in the Northwest to continue through to the weekend potentially bringing a metre or more of snow to resorts in the region. Further east in Colorado, Utah and Alberta there should be some more good snowfalls too with a foot (30cm) or so more likely by this time next week. In New England there’s not a lot on the horizon until, possibly, Sunday/Monday next week when early indications are of 20-40cm accumulations of fresh snow.
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