World Snow News 62

Update for 13th March 2009

Ortovox D3Welcome to another global snow roundup from This week, we are pleased to announce two updates to the website:

1. Archive webcams: now all our resort webcam pages have a new section to them which contains a cam image for the past 7 days. This provides an excellent snapshot of the weather conditions over the previous days and is well worth a look. Here is an example.

2. A new online shop is available at where you can purchase tshirts or calendars, instruction books as well as the latest range of mountain safety gear from Ortovox. For readers of this week's snow news, here is a promotional code (ORTOVOX20) that will give you £20 off any of the Ortovox avalanche transceivers in our shop. We are also offering a 6 month membership (or extension for existing members) with EVERY purchase.

3. Win a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx loaded with all of Europe's or N. America's pistemaps here


  • Europe

  • At the start of the week heavy snow and high winds affected the Alps

    20-50cm of snow fell at most Alpine resorts and in the Jura and Black Forest too

    The only resorts that missed the stormy and snowy weather were in Italy

    The last of the snow from this system is clearing from Austria and Bavaria at the weekend

    Spring-like weather conditions will follow - expect sun and milder temperatures for most

    Snowfall will never be far away from the Austrian Alps next week

    Milder temperatures are already affecting the Pyrenees. The past week has been sunny here

    An anticyclone over France means that the weather will continue dry and mostly fine in the Western Alps and the Pyrenees

    Temperatures will remain lower for longer in Eastern Europe and there will be snowfalls too, heaviest in Greece and Turkey

    Scottish resorts have seen a return to adverse mild conditions following a good wintry spell

    Fairly mild westerly winds will bring variable weather conditions through the weekend and into next week

    Resorts in Scandinavia have received further fresh snow

    The week ahead will see a perfect mix of fine days and snowfalls

  • North America

  • In the US the week so far has been cold and dry on the West Coast, mild and rainy on the East

    This colder air has reached the Appalachian resorts and it is warming up in the West

    It stays cold and sunny here until the middle of next week. A brief mild spell will accompany snow and rain

    It has been almost two weeks since the last storms dumped up to 2m of snow on Californian ski resorts

    West Coast skiing conditions are still great but temperatures are steadily climbing so expect spring snow conditions

    Ahead of the mild weather there will be further mostly light snowfalls for the American Rockies

    For wintry weather with further heavy snow an low temperatures, head to the Pacific NW or Canada

    An arctic blast delivered exceptionally cold air to resorts in BC and Alberta early this week

    With temperatures falling as low as minus forty, some resorts had to close

    Heavy snow is forecast for resorts in British Columbia, Alberta, Oregon and Washington State

    • Other News

    • The first southerly of winter delivered a period of snow to the mountains of New Zealand last week. Another great season?

      Excellent value Chill passes are on sale now, and early season Mt Ruapehu passes are cheaper than last season.

      Next week will be unsettled and often snowy at ski resorts in the Southern Andes

      Widespread snow across Japan this weekend but by mid-week it will have turned mild away from Hokkaido

    Europe Weather Overview

    Overall, the European winter of 2009 has been even better than the memorable 2008 season and deep bases at most resorts guarantee that spring skiing will be excellent. Early this week winter took yet another swipe at the Alps when a vigorous depression approached from the NW and brought high winds and more than 50cm of snow to many places, closing lifts and elevating the avalanche risk even in places like the Jura which are usually regarded as being safe. Because of the direction the weather approached from, some resorts in the Italian Alps mostly missed out on the wind and snowfalls but away from this sheltered area the snow was very widespread. Conditions quickly cleared in the French and Swiss Alps, leading to perfect mid-week snow conditions, and by Friday the unsettled weather has already departed Austria, setting the scene for another weekend of perfect conditions. Whereas most of the winter favored the Italian resorts, the past five weeks have been much snowier across the Austrian Alps and in both countries many resorts have about twice the usual snow-depth for this time of year.

    The rapidly improving weather conditions are the result of an anticyclone building across France and Western Europe. This system looks like it is no hurry to move away which means that there will be no major changes in the weather over the Alps and the Pyrenees for several days. Snow looks like it will soon return to Austria at times. By the end of next week it looks as if the anticyclone will retreat into the Atlantic allowing an unsettled NW flow to stream down the North Sea and into central Europe. If so, it will eventually turn colder with snow across the rest of the Alps and even the Massif Central by next weekend. Meanwhile, under clear skies, temperatures are currently about normal for mid-March so skiers can expect spring snow conditions that will trend to slushy during the afternoon on lower slopes in strong spring sunshine. The Pyrenees missed out on the snow early this week and with at least nine more sunny days forecast, resorts will have to work hard to keep the pistes in good shape. This is something that is vital if they are to justify having the highest lift prices in Western Europe; close to £170 for a 6-day pass for British skiers. Although this is partly to the crashing pound, it is also down to inflation-busting ticket prices increases as Andorra continues to shake off its 1980s reputation as Europe's bargain-basement destination. Bulgaria claims that title now but in our opinion there are better value destinations if you don't mind organizing your trip; places like The Jura, Turkey and at least until it it joined the Euro at the New Year, Slovakia.

    When it is good, Scotland can be very good and it can provide cash-strapped Brits a great alternative to the continent although in reality only Scots seem to take advantage of this. March and April are usually the best months for skiing in Scotland because the days are longer and the snow is more certain and in most years there is at least one long fine spell of weather. Despite the fact that most Brits would regard the 2009 winter as being cold and snowy, and in England and Wales that's certainly been true, there have really only been a few weeks when the Scottish resorts have produced really great skiing conditions. Occasional mild spells of Atlantic SW winds over Scotland have stripped away promising base layers whenever they threatened to become substantial and at The Lecht and at lower slopes elsewhere, the thaws have periodically exposed the mud and heather. The most recent snow that fell last weekend certainly improved things for a spell but resorts have since been affected by another thaw. The current run of fairly mild westerly winds won't really change things as they bring alternating bands of milder and slightly cooler air with just a little snow on higher runs. Hopefully the weather models are correct and a very snowy nw flow will return in time for the weekend of March 21st.

    As usual, high pressure in Western Europe leads to northerly winds, low temperatures and snowfalls to the east, a weather pattern that seemed to dominate entire winter seasons just a few years ago. Snow conditions in Bulgaria are reported to be the best they have been all season and we expect low temperatures and light snowfalls to keep it that way for at least another week. For heavier snow, head south to the Balkans, Greece and especially Turkey. A large area of heavy snow in Western Turkey on Friday moves quickly east but the week ahead will see further areas of snow moving across the region as result of low pressure over the Black Sea and the Aegean. With light winds, low temperatures for March and some fine spells forecast, this is an excellent week to be heading to Eastern Europe.

    Scandinavia continues to enjoy superb skiing conditions. The high latitude means that in spring daylight hours rapidly increase and whereas winter temperatures were mostly around minus 20C they are currently much more comfortable at just below zero and the long ski season has several more months to run. During the past week most resorts have enjoyed further snowfalls and the prevailing Atlantic flow means that more western and southern resorts in Norway will see the heaviest snowfalls next week; drier for resorts in Sweden.

    North America Weather Overview

    It's two weeks since the last of the huge snowfalls in California when up to 2m fell in a single storm but since then it has been mostly dry and cold - in short, perfect. It will be sunny and milder around Lake Tahoe on Friday with clouds increasing on Saturday and relatively light snowfalls on Sunday and Monday with the rest of the week fine again, but increasingly mild with temperatures reaching 10C (50F) at resort elevation. Great skiing nevertheless.

    The forecast for the American Rockies is not dissimilar. Durango Mountain Resort has received its first significant snow for a month when 8cm fell on Tuesday and snow is falling nearby on Thursday night. Any unsettled weather soon clears this weekend and freezing levels steadily rise next week so make the most of the powder conditions currently on offer. Vail in Colorado received just 3cm of snow on Tuesday and the off-piste quickly got tracked out but the pistes are in great shape.

    The Pacific NW of the the United Stated as well as British Columbia is the the place to head if you are looking for deep fresh snowfalls. Timberline, in Oregon, is one of the most snow-sure resorts anywhere and although Friday should be dry we are expecting close to 1m of snow to fall here over the following three days. Cold too. The forecast is even snowier than this for Whistler in British Columbia. Once the snow starts falling on Friday night it will carry on falling for much of the next ten days with Sunday and Thursday the most likely days to enjoy reasonable visibility. After a slow start, the current season continues to improve.

    Low temperatures at resorts in the Canadian Rockies this week forced them to close for safety considerations. Friday is nothing like as severe and temperatures in Banff are not far below freezing and light drifting snow is falling across the region, including Calgary. Further snowfalls and lower temperatures over the next ten days but the snow won't be anything like as heavy here as it is in coastal BC; probably a good thing because at least there will be opportunities to get out and enjoy it.

    The Appalachians are cold and clear once again as we head into the weekend, in marked contrast with the recent warm and wet spell when snowfall was restricted to the highest slopes at Killington and rain made skiing heavy lower down. The fine spell breaks on about Wednesday when there will be another spell of mild weather, rain and snow. It looks as if the back edge of the weather will turn cold enough for rain to turn to snow at all elevations before it clears away and the week looks like ending fine again, but very cold.

    The snow-forecast team - March 2009 .: click here to unsubscribe :.