World Snow News 61
Update for February 20th 2009
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The excellent snow conditions in Western Europe continue
Once again, The Alps are enjoying fresh snow and low temperatures
German and Austrian resorts saw up to 60cm of light powder fall last weekend
Much more widespread Alpine snow arrived on Tuesday as low pressure briefly crossed the region
Expect a lengthy period of mostly fine weather but with light snowfalls in eastern parts. Staying cold
Andorra has been mainly sunny since cloud on Sunday. Snow conditions remain very good following snow that fell a week ago
More than five feet (160cm) of snow fell at Cautrets on 11-12 February, 10 feet (3m) in one week, burying lifts
Expect a mostly dry and sunny week in the Pyrenees. Milder too, especially mid-week
Scottish resorts have seen a thaw. The week ahead includes two further mild spells
Resorts in Scandinavia have received fresh snow and are currently less cold than they have been
Improved conditions in Bulgaria following recent snowfalls. Expect a bitterly cold week with further light snowfalls
The weather pattern over America continues to drive storms from coast to coast across the US
This storm crossed the continent and will slowly exit the East Coast leaving great skiing conditions in the Appalachians
The vast majority of ski areas elsewhere in North America reported fine weather
Yet another storm will move in from the Pacific in a few days
Welcome new snow is forecast for British Columbia and Alberta
South Africaâ€™s Tiffindell Ski Resort has gone out of business despite recent investments
In China, Hebei got its first heavy snows of the year on Wednesday, partly attributed to cloud seeding
New surface tows extend Jade Mountain to 4700m, the highest ski area in the World (since Chacaltaya in Bolivia closed)
Europe Weather Overview
Winter 2009 continues to deliver incredible snow conditions to the European Alps and Pyrenees with a perfect combination of persistently low temperatures, regular snowfalls and enough sunny days to allow skiers and snowboarders to fully exploit it. In the entire season, apart from two storms that were accompanied by high winds and one brief thaw of low-altitude snow in Austria, the only major problem has been an over-abundance of snow, making off-piste conditions treacherous in many places.
The weather during busy half-term holiday week did not disappoint. The weather pattern closely followed the forecast with the heaviest and most frequent snowfalls in Austria and Germany and mostly cold and sunny days elsewhere. Most resorts in Italy did not receive any new snow - Cervinia , Selva Gardena and Livigno were among the lucky exceptions. As expected, the best area in France for mid-week snowfalls was the Portes du Soleil area (and the nearby Jura too). Many resorts in Austria and Switzerland have received at least 15-20cm of new snow and 60cm fell at the Ski-Welt resorts in Austria and the Bernese Alps of Switzerland (places like Murren). Snowfall in the Bavarian Alps was even heavier than this leading to perfect winter conditions.
High pressure drifts around Western Europe for the next ten days maintain a holding weather pattern over Alpine and Pyrenees resorts. In general, expect fine weather for Andorra and the French Alps with further mostly light snowfalls to the east. Austria and Germany will see the heaviest of any snowfalls (including the low-altitude resorts of central Germany). High pressure maintains a week of fine conditions in the Sierra Nevada of Southern Spain but on Thursday it should turn cloudy and snowy. With a blocking high centered over France, The British Isles are warm for a change and meanwhile the really cold and very snowy weather has been diverted to the east.
You do not have to travel far from the Alps to reach it. Expect bitterly cold north winds and snowfalls to continue at ski resorts in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. It has already been snowing at JasnÃ¡ - Chopok in Slovakia for several days and temperatures are -15C to -20C at many places in central and eastern Europe on Thursday night. Zakopane, in Poland, presents a good prospect for skiing once the clouds lift. Light snowfalls will continue this weekend followed by heavier snowfalls on Tuesday and Wednesday. With cold and sunny weather by next weekend, conditions should finally become perfect but wrap up well because temperatures will remain far below zero. Thankfully, the wind should remain light.
The weather pattern has become much more conducive for winter sports in Eastern Europe. High pressure to the west of the region has established a very cold northerly flow. Bansko reports 10cm of fresh powder on Thursday and we expect these great conditions to continue with similar fresh snowfalls on Thursday night. Remaining very cold and snowy at times for the next 10 days with perfect skiing conditions during brighter periods. Monday, Tuesday and Friday should be the best days.
With a large low pressure system located over the Aegean Sea on Thursday night it is no wonder that it has already become very snowy over the mountains of Greece and Turkey and also Romania where several snowfall warnings were issued earlier in the week. Snow will also be very heavy at resorts in Lebanon. This system will steadily move away to the east and will eventually deliver heavy snowfalls to the Caucasus Mountains. However, a second depression forms in the Eastern Mediterranean next week and this will maintain the very snowy pattern in the region leading to some really exceptional conditions. Nowhere will be better than the high resorts of Faraya and The Cedars in Lebanon or Mount Hermon in Israel. Much better weather at Poiana Brasov in Romania by this time.
Following perfect snow conditions at the start of February, resorts in Scotland have all suffered from the effect of mild temperatures. Conditions on lower slopes have become wet everywhere. Lower freezing levels on Thursday (-2C at 3000m) have halted the melt for a while but we expect two further mild spells in the next 10 days - one at the start of this weekend and another at the end of next week. Between these, strong westerlies should be cold enough for snow rather than rain to fall, at least on upper slopes and sometimes right down to the car-parks. Expect variable snow and weather conditions.
Last week, our forecast for Scandinavia proved accurate with fresh snowfalls and milder temperatures, at least in the South. Several resorts reported 10cm of fresh snow at the start of the week and there have been regular light snowfalls since then too. Unsettled weather will continue through the weekend and right through next week. Expect further snowfalls and excellent snow conditions.
North America Weather Overview
Hopefully you have made the most of the fine spell of mid-week weather that has followed widespread heavy snowfalls, much forecast in the last editorial. This fine weather in the Rockies and the West Coast will last a little longer than we expected before yet another Pacific storm once again affects the West Coast and then the Rocky Mountain region. Just as last time, the mountains of California will receive the heaviest snowfall. Watch out for rain at first below about 6000 feet.
Before this system arrives, the storm system that brought the previous snowfall to California and the Rockies has yet to clear the East Coast. Snow still falling over New England (more than 20cm has already fallen at resorts in Vermont ) will not have stopped for very long before a developing depression, sweeping down over the Great Lakes, brings more. Next week, this seconds system soon clears away. Fine weather and fresh snow mean that skiers can expect perfect conditions. Extremely cold at first but it will turn steadily milder from mid-week and by Friday freezing levels may even rise above the summits of many ski areas.
Yet another large weather system will arrive at the Pacific coast on Sunday bringing additional relief from the Californian drought. In the meantime, places like Mammoth and Lake Tahoe resorts should enjoy three more perfect bluebird days and Mammoth Mountain has almost a metre of fresh. Once the next storm sets in, snowy weather, sometimes accompanied by strong winds, does not look like clearing until Thursday or even Friday. During the intervening period, once again expect a lot more snow to accumulate, certainly in California and Nevada, but also in the interior too as a very broad area of low pressure develops across the Rockies.
Whistler ends the current week fine and sunny. There has not been any new snow here for 10 days which means that off-piste is pretty much tracked out. Expect a dramatic improvement as a result of heavy snowfalls between Sunday night and Wednesday.
Resorts in Alberta saw further light snowfalls last weekend and although snow-depths are not at all impressive for mid February, skiing conditions there remain excellent. The weather system that will bring snow to Alberta looks like it will continue on to affect this region too with moderate snowfalls on Tuesday at Banff Mt Norquay. Recent snowfalls have been much heavier in the American Rockies - In Colorado, Aspen has received 50cm of snow over the last week and further snowfalls on Thursday are only adding to the superb conditions. Make the most of the fine end to the week before the next weather system arrives.
The snow-forecast team - February 2009