World Snow News 32
World Snow News Update for February 15 2008
Welcome to the latest roundup of worldwide snow conditions for members, together with weather prospects for the week ahead from www.snow-forecast.com. You can also browse the entire archive of weekly editorials.
Yesterday we enabled long range forecast maps for members. These compliment the 9 day resort forecasts that we added a week ago. We still have a couple of maps to add to the navigation menu, such as day 6 to day 9 snowfall.. On the launch day, all of the Alps snow forecast maps were blank. Unfortunately, that was not a bug. Instead, it was a very depressing forecast of no new snow in the Alps for 9 days. Let's hope we see some vivid colours appearing in these maps before too long.
Once again, thank you for supporting the site through your membership; without this income we would not have been able to invest in the considerable extra computer power required to deliver such a comprehensive service. Recently we asked a subset of members for their opinions about the services we provide. Thank you to everyone who has replied so far – your feedback is proving very helpful and your suggestions will shape future development.
One thing that we were disappointed to discover is that relatively few members take advantage of the various discounts we have negotiated on their behalf – things like discounted car and ski hire. We and our friends use these deals all the time and save a lot on our European ski trips. It is worth repeating that we make no profit from these promotions and pass on all of any savings we can negotiate so that members can potentially recover the cost of membership several times over.
40% off Ski & Board hire – Half Term, Easter Breaks and Spring Snow, enjoy it all!
Snow-forecast has got together with Snowbrainer.co.uk to give you 40% off all ski and snowboard hire. The offer is available in over 140 ski resorts in France including top favourites – Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens, Les Arc, Val d'Isere and Plagne. Book online before midnight Sunday 17th February and you will receive a massive 40% off the retail hire price.
This applies to all bookings of 6 or more days for any week of the 07/08 season booked by Snow-forecast members through the following link prior to 18/02/08.
We previously warned that the current European anticyclone would prove much harder to shift than previous ones and this is indeed the case. We wish we had been wrong because the present sunny system has already sat over the Alps for long enough to compromise snow conditions. The bad news is that is that the offending anticyclone not about to make a quick exit in time for the English half term influx and we don't expect any real improvement soon other than scattered flurries on the weekend and again mid-week. Let's not be too negative; most Alpine resorts have an excellent snow cover and above about 2200 m (lower in Italy, higher in France) it has been cold enough to maintain most of the base, and cold enough for snowmaking too. The problem is that by the February sun is already quite high in the sky and where it beats down on south facing slopes there is an inevitable rapid transition to spring snow conditions – slushy in the afternoon and frozen hard each morning. Italy has probably fared best so far because it has been coldest overall. We expect more of the same weather for at least another seven days so if you are heading out there remember to take sun cream and a good insurance policy in case the hard piste gets the better of you. For good piste skiers who stay up high, there will no doubt be some great fast-snow conditions to be had but for free-ride snowboarders and off-piste skiers, you will have to search hard to make soft tracks this long after snow fell; shady locations above 2500 m are about it; down in the trees the snow is frozen solid everywhere. If you are still flexible with your travel plans, consider some of the less well known destinations that can expect significant fresh snow: Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Scandinavia will all have better conditions than the Alps over the next week. Looking further ahead, it seems probable that the remnants of a weather front currently over southern Spain will drift northeast into Southern France in a week. If so, and the precise track is currently far from certain, it may bring welcome snow to the Western Alps on about Thursday. We will keep a close eye on how this develops and post updates on the website. Lastly, all the way back in September we wrote that although we expected the 07/08 Alpine season to be a vast improvement on the 06/07 one, the expected weather pattern favored an early Spring in Europe. That weather pattern has not changed and although it seems very pessimistic to suggest that Winter in the Alps has all but ended while we are still in February, we are already anxious that high pressure will dominate the weather for several weeks. Hopefully not. When I wrote that spring may come early to central Europe I had mid March in mind, not mid February!
As expected, Andorra had a dry week. However, we are pleased to see that models confidently predict falling pressure over the whole of Iberia as the European anticyclone drifts very slowly east. This should at last allow for significant snowfalls, although we don't expect these to reach Andorra until next Friday and we are mindful that the distribution of precipitation over Iberia is rather scattered and uncertain. Until then, dry and sunny in the Pyrenees once again. At this stage, more obscure and smaller Spanish resorts that are located further south look like seeing more snow out of any unsettled weather. A week ago we wrote that it would stay dry until Thursday (yesterday) in the Sierra Nevada in the south and that a moderate snowfall was then forecast; breaking a very long snow-drought. As I write, on Thursday night, I am pleased to report that this was correct; snow has just begun to fall and Friday should see the first day of skiing on fresh natural snow since the New Year. This much more favourable weather pattern should last all week with an unsettled mix of snow and sunny spells. Slowly becoming less cold so there with an increasing risk of rain or sleet at resort level.
At least temperatures across the British Isles have fallen as the wind turns more easterly. Earlier this week, light southerly winds and clear skies made for several successive days when temperatures hovered close to 18° C in parts of Wales; not quite a January record, but certainly a record for so early in February. Not surprisingly, this same thaw and freeze pattern had led to spring conditions for Scottish ski resorts. Fine and cold weather eventually giving way to moist and strong Westerly winds next week. Expect a brief period of rain at all levels, probably preceded by snow as the westerlies come up against the residual cold air. Rather milder air than at present following the front as pressure builds from the west at the end of the week and some prospect of that settling over the British Isles at the weekend.
It has not been a bad season in Scandinavia. Although Norway and Sweden have not seen anything to compare with the early season dumps in the Alps or the mid-season snowfalls in the Rockies, they have at least maintained fairly regular snowfalls throughout. Last week was similar with modest snowfalls sufficient to keep most resorts in good shape. For example, Oppdall saw 10 cm of snow on Wednesday night. Westerlies will dominate the week ahead. These should deliver regular snowfalls, more especially to Norway. It's very cold right now but temperatures will soon climb to near freezing at the more popular resorts in the south. This means that rain, wet snow and morning ice will eventually make things less than perfect at low elevations – head further north or stay high.
Last weeks forecast for Eastern Europe was accurate. Bulgaria saw enough snow to freshen up pistes but the real interest was in Greece where many resorts saw heavy snowfalls and if you took our advice and headed there instead of the Alps, good for you as no doubt you will have seen Greece at its best with low temperatures and fresh powder. In case you are not aware of one of the oldest ski sites on the web, we suggest bookmarking snorewport.gr which has an English summary every Thursday as well as daily reports. There is still some more snow to fall before the low pressure moves away East (Mount Pilion, overlooking the city of Volos on one side and the Aegean Sea on the other will as usual see the heaviest snow now that the wind is north-easterly). However, the weather has a sting in the tail as we expect a period of strong winds over the weekend to cause drifting and maybe close some exposed lifts; unusual conditions for Greece but soon clearing to a sunny week and great once skiing again. Turkey and Lebanon will be next to see the heavy snowfall from this depression.
High pressure over Western Europe in winter invariably means that there is fresh snow falling somewhere down its cold eastern flank. Much as forecast last time, it has become steadily more unsettled in Lebanon over the past few days and there was fresh snow at all resorts on Thursday morning, with over 1.5 m snow base at resort elevations and presumably a lot more higher up. Expect a brief fine spell on Friday (perfect skiing on fresh snow), then a very cold and snowy period until Wednesday; heaviest snow falling on Sunday and Monday, also settling at Mount Hermon in Israel. As is typical in this region, the unsettled weather will clear quickly to brilliant sunshine with light winds. Other locations that will see good snowfalls and low temperatures this week are in Turkey. Uludag is easily accessible from the big city of Bursa and can expect 40 cm of fresh powder to fall over the weekend, drifting in strong and bitterly cold north winds. Once the weather clears next week it should be perfect and for a while at least, Turkish resorts will offer better off-piste skiing than the Alps.
In the Pacific, a moderate-to-strong La Niña looks like persisting through the rest of the Northern Hemisphere winter, with the likely continuation of a weaker La Niña through until at least June. In short, this means that the recent predictable north American snowfall distribution should continue so expect above average snowfalls close to the West Coast of Canada and the American Pacific NW; this snowy pattern extending well into the Rockies. No surprise to read that at Whistler-Blackcomb we are expecting a lot more snow in the days ahead. Friday should be snowy and then a welcome break until the next weather system turns up on Tuesday and hangs around for two or three days.
For most areas from the Rockies west it has been a relatively quiet week of weather in marked contrast to the record breaking January snow storms. Vail saw light powder snow on Thursday morning and was typical of Colorado resorts; just enough fresh overnight snow to keep conditions fresh each day. Prospects here continue to be good with a mix of light snowfalls and sunny spells up until Wednesday when two or three days of continuous snow are expected. Pacific NW places like Timberline has continued to see snowfalls last week (total snow depth now about 4.5 m) because they are located close enough to where La Niña has been delivering a relentless flow of weather systems close to the Canada border. In California, things are quieter, at least for a while. Sunny at first but much less settled and often snowy next week at the Tahoe resorts. Very windy too.
Like the Alps, The East Coast of North America is having a very good ski season compared with the 06-07 one. This time, any spells of mild southerly air so far have been brief. Further, they have tended to have been followed by fresh snow which has avoided the boiler-plate conditions that often follow thaws. Last week was snowy again. Vermont saw the heaviest snowfalls with over 15 cm on Wednesday at most resorts. The next seven days look very variable with huge temperature fluctuations as the air alternates between icy continental and warm maritime. Sunday night in particular looks very stormy with blizzard conditions and some rain at low elevations before it turns much colder again. We suggest keeping a close eye on both forecasts and reports this week because snow conditions will be very variable both with time and location. As normal, the further north you travel, the less influence the mild outbreaks will have.
Following a long hot summer, the weather has briefly broken across New Zealand. There was very heavy rain on the East Coast of South Island around Kaikoura and it was cold enough for the first dusting of snow of 2008 on the higher mountains as far north as Ruapehu on North Island, a reminder that winter is not all that far away. It is already time to buy cheap season passes – to my mind, the Chill passes are unbeatable value. Just a week ago, an offshore cyclone sent 6 m swells along the East Coast from Gisborne right down the Wairarapa. Check our sister site at surf-forecast.com for details of global surf prospects. There is no doubt that the hot New Zealand Summer weather will return in just a few days, but already we can make some predictions for the coming ski season. If the present strong La Niña is still there in June, and that's what we expect, we can expect a below average start to the NZ 2008 ski season. Also, since there is currently no expectation of a strong El Nino developing in time, we can already say that a very good ski season is unlikely. At this stage, it seems that the best we can hope for is for an average season. More of this in a future editorial.
The snow-forecast team