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Swiss Use Exploding Snowman’s Head to Predict Whether it will Snow in Summer

A long-standing festival in Zurich next month will once again be used to predict how the weather will turn out over the coming spring and summer. Sechselaeuten, Böögg The annual Sechseläuten (or “Sächsilüüte” as it is known in local dialect) is a kind of combination of Britain’s Bonfire Night and America’s Groundhog Day as a snowman is burned on a giant bonfire at the height of the festivities. In a uniquely Swiss twist however, the snowman’s head is packed full of fireworks.  The time it takes between the fire being lit and the fireworks being set off is then used to forecast the weather for the spring ahead. The snowman in question (and he’s a flammable 3.4m/11 feet high effigy…

New Zealand Ski Area to open this Weekend After Rare Summer Snow Storm

A ski area in New Zealand has announced it plans to open more than three months before the scheduled start date of its 2019 ski season, following a freak summer snow storm. It’s currently the final few days of meteorological summer time in the southern hemisphere but several ski areas in New Zealand reported heavy snowfall over the weekend due to a ‘Polar blast’ of cold air arriving from Antarctica. Mt Hutt, one of the country’s largest ski centres, reported it has received “over 50cm” of snow and whilst temperatures are now rising back up to their seasonal norm, meaning a thaw is underway, they believe there’ll be enough snow left to open some runs on Saturday and Sunday –…

All-time Record February Snowfalls in California

Several ski resorts in California have reported they've reached all-time record February snowfall totals with the month only just past halfway through. “How buried are we? #FEBRUBURIED. We smashed our February snowfall record of 196" (498cm) last night. We now have more than 205" (519cm) of snow, and it's still coming down,” said a spokesperson for Squaw Valley. The resort, which currently has the second deepest base in North America, currently has teams hand-digging out chairlift routes up the mountain so that the lifts can operate. Mammoth Mountain, which recently announced it was extending its 2019 opening to at least US Independence Day, July 34th, also says it has had record snowfall in February. “With almost 15 feet (4.5 metres)…

4 Day, 3 Metre (10 Foot), Snowstorm Hits US

A massive winter snowstorm has brought huge snowfalls to the Western United States, particularly the Californian Sierras, where resorts have reported up to 3 metres (10 feet) of snowfall in total over the past four days - some receiving snow at a rate of more than a metre in 24 hours at times. The snowfall was driven in on very strong winds, sometimes reaching over 100mph, meaning that there were severe blizzard conditions. Several resorts closed as it was unsafe to be outside, let alone on the ski slopes, although others stayed open throughout. https://www.facebook.com/HomewoodMountainResort/videos/377726909721733/ Mammoth Mountain, pictured top, one of the currently closed resorts, posted the biggest total of 3 metres (10 feet) of snowfall since Saturday on its…

The Deepest Snow Depths in the World so far This Season

As we enter February this week it has been snowing hard again, this time with the Pyrenees and the Western Alps, particularly France, seeing the biggest falls.  But where is the snow lying deepest so far? Nine resorts (dominated numerically by Austrian entries, although with Swiss resorts at the very top) are reporting they have more than 4.5 metres (15 feet) of snow lying on their upper slopes. 6 Metres (20 Feet), Andermatt, Uri, Switzerland Andermatt saw huge snow accumulations during the three-week deluge on the eastern Alps between Christmas and mid-January.  It was cut off by road for periods with the only access via a rail tunnel.   5.2 Metres (17.3 Feet), Engelberg, Central Switzerland Engelberg also saw huge snowfalls…

Skier Rescued Alive After Being Buried 3 Metres down in an Avalanche for Over an Hour

A skier is rescued to have been rescued alive despite being buried three metres below the snow for more than an hour after getting trapped in an avalanche. Three skiers were skiing in a steep off-piste area at the Swiss destination of Jaun on Monday last week when the avalanche occurred. The avalanche risk at the time was set at 3 (considerable) out of 5 on the European Avalanche Danger Scale and an avalanche 50 metres wide and 250 metres long was set off engulfing the three skiers. A witness called immediately for emergency assistance and a rescue team from REGA (Swiss Air-Rescue) came by helicopter with an avalanche dog and a RECCO detector. A 22-year-old man got buried completely.…

Major Storm Brings Huge Snow Accumulations to California

A major storm currently hitting the Pacific Coast, and particularly California, has been rated one of the five biggest of the past decade by local weather agencies. The reason it is being given such a high weather danger warning is only partly due to the huge snowfalls it’s bringing with it It is also bringing winds of up to 110 miles per hour and people were advised not to go outdoors overnight. “There is a rare "Blizzard Warning" in effect from 10PM tonight through 7AM tomorrow. Avoid travel at that time as it will become extremely dangerous,” a statement from Mammoth Mountain advises, continuing, “The good news? Heavy snowfall is expected and it's looking like an incredible bluebird holiday weekend…

Base Depths Reach 5 Metres in the Alps

Andermatt ski area in Switzerland has posted a 20cm increase in its upper-slope base depth, measuring it at 5m (16.6 feet). It’s the first ski resort in the world to hit the 5 metre mark this season, and the first half of January is an early point in the year for any resort to reach this depth.  The resort has had 50cm of snow in the past 72 hours. Down at resort level the base depth is 65cm (just over two feet).  More heavy snow and strengthening winds are expected tomorrow which seems likely to increase the current avalanche danger level 3 (‘considerable’) in the area to level 4 ‘high’. Loser, over the border in Austria, is close behind with…

Avalanche Danger Reaches Maximum Level 5 in Parts of Austria

The avalanche danger level has been moved up to the maximum level 5 in several provinces of northern Austria today after several days when safety services were thought likely to make the move. Some ski areas in Austria, Eastern Switzerland, southern Germany and Slovakia have had 3 metres (10 feet) of snow in the past week and the amount of snow falling has intensified again. The snow has also been falling accompanied by winds reaching at times 100kph in places, increasing the instability of the snow pack. The Austrian regions where the danger level has been raised to level 5 (“extreme: black”) risk are Salzburgerland, Oberösterreich (Upper Austria) and Steiermark (Styria). The description for this is: “The snowpack is generally…

Snowfall in Austria and the Eastern Alps Gets Ever More Epic

The huge snowstorm that has been sat over the Eastern Alps for several weeks now has brought ever more remarkable volumes of snowfall to the region, and there’s no real sign of it ending any time soon (although current forecasts are for the amount of snow falling to decrease). (Image top: SkiStar St Johann in Tirol) The snowfall initially brought as much at 2.1m (7 feet) snowfall tallies to some areas in 7 days but as the snow has continued falling total accumulations have now passed 3 metres (10 feet) for some resorts. Infact Austria’s Tauplitzalm says it has had 3 metres (10 feet) of snow in the last week, Saalbach 2.7 metres (9 feet). Upper slope base depths are…