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Snow Depths Reach 6m On Two Continents, 5m on Third

Snow depths have been building across the northern hemisphere in the run up to meteorological spring. Typically northern hemisphere snow bases grow and grow from September to March before peaking at the start of spring when the annual thaw begins to slowly reduce the snow pack through spring and summer. In recent years the deepest depths have struggled to reach 4m or 5m at times – last season saw a very deep snowbase in North America but not to much in Asia and Europe for example. 2017-18 is seeing more uniformity across the three northern hemisphere continents.  Depths in Europe passed the 6m (20 feet) mark at several Swiss ski areas in January – very unusually deep bases. Japan in…

Big Snowfalls for the Start of Spring in the USA

After a largely quiet February for snowfall in most of North America, March and the start of  meteorological spring, has seen some big snowfalls on both the West and East coasts of the US. The snow is welcome on both coasts – in Califiornia because they’re still battling from low snowfall totals and warm weather through much of the season to date, in the east because temperatures had been unseasonably warm and some more southerly areas had been forced to close for the season early.  Here precipitation was expected to fall as rain at most areas but has fallen as snow at many resorts in Vermont and New York State, where swain ski centre reported 20 inches/51cm of snow overnight.…

Big Snowfalls in the Southern Alps

There have been some big snowfalls reported in the southern Alps over the past 24 hours. The snowfall totals are some of the biggest since the huge January snowfalls and follow a mostly dry and often cold February. Accumulations of up to 50cm (20 inches) have been reported in the southern French Alps, as well as in Western Italy and parts of Switzerland. The biggest accumulation reported so far was 50cm at Puy St Vincent in the southern French Alps with Serre Chevalier (pictured top) reporting 40cm and many other ski areas in the region 20-40cm.  Superdevoluy (pictured above and below) has had 30cm of snow since yesterday. Over the border in to Italy there’s been 30cm (a foot) of…

How will “Beast from the East” & Storm Emma affect UK Mountains?

It’s hard to avoid a UK news bulletin that does not mention the “Beast from the East” that will dominate the weather over the coming week. This potentially rare weather event is due to a polar vortex - an area of low pressure in the upper parts of the atmosphere that is more often found centred over NE Siberia and Canada. An event known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) has occurred where the polar vortex expands and gets pushed south, carried along with the jet stream. This one in four-year event typically leads to cold snaps lasting up to a fortnight. UK accumulated snowfall for 28th Feb - 2nd March and Temperature forecast for Weds 28th…

Dutch University Study Finds Increasing Irrigation May Lead to Glacier Growth

Climate change is causing most of the world’s glaciers to slowly melt away. Some glaciers and once permanent ice fields have already lost 80 or 90% of their mass compared to their size in the middle of the last century, others, for example the snowfield that was home to the world’s former highest ski lift at Chacaltaya in Bolivia, have already melted away completely. Glaciers that are home to the only snowfields in a dozen or so countries in Africa and Asia look set to have disappeared by the middle of this century, or sooner. But not all glaciers have been shrinking.  A small percentage appear to have actually increased their mass and now a team from Utrecht University in…

Team of Mums Raise over £95,000 for ‘Everest in the Alps’ Charity Challenge

Seven mums from Twyford are about to take on the challenge of scaling the height of Everest on skis in just four days in a charity fundraiser. Tanya Ritchie, whose ten-year-old son Toby, has a low grade brain tumour, heads up Toby’s Team, which, along with six other teams, will take on the epic challenge on Monday 26 February to raise funds for vital research into childhood brain tumours. The four-day challenge will test all skiers to their limits. They’ll be ascending over 2,500 metres every day to reach their target, burning off the equivalent calories of running several back-to-back marathons on each of the four days. “The challenge next week has ruled our lives for months now. The training,…

World Record Broken for Speed on a Snowboard

Britain’s Jamie Barrow has broken his own world record for speed on a snowboard. Barrow hit 149.65 km/h (92.99mph) being towed behind a Maserati Levante SUV car on his snowboard on frozen Lake St. Moritz on Monday, 19 February. Barrow broke his own record of 99.87 kilometres per hour which he had set almost exactly two years previously at the same location. This time however the snow was less sticky and his course longer. https://www.facebook.com/barrowboarder/videos/1693783640672213/   Barrow, who has dual Swiss citizenship, has made his name in recent years getting faster and faster on a board, but usually travelling horizontally, often being towed behind a car or even a plane, across a frozen lake, usually in St Moritz.  On one…

Climbers Make First Winter Summit of Highest Peak in Polar Arctic

Two climbers have successfully completed an ascent of Gora Pobeda (Pik Pobeda), the highest mountain in Siberia, in the Polar Arctic Circle, the coldest inhabited place on earth. Tamara Lunger and Simone Moro successfully reached the mountain’s 3003m summit on Sunday, 11th February at 3.37pm then returned to their base within a total time of 11 hours, covering 27.3km and 2047m of elevation gain whilst avoiding the need to camp out in the extreme conditions. Had they fallen, a rescue would have been impossible. “It snowed all day long, but luckily there was good visibility. It was cold but thankfully cloud cover was in our favor, warding off the extreme temperatures. Low wind and -30/35 is what we can realistically…

The Weather Extremes of PyeongChang

It was clear as the Olympics got underway on February 8th that Pyeongchang was going to set records for the coldest recorded Games, but initially it wasn’t clear quite how many different ways this would impact on the competitions.  The wind was not immediately factored in to our thinking either but as soon as events started being cancelled due to the wind, rather than the fact that team coaches were reporting skis warping after one run due to the cold, it became clear that was a factor too. (The presence of a wind farm at the Alpensia Olympic ski venue shows that wind is not unusual here) The “PyeongChang Gust” Strong, gusting winds were the main issue for the first…

Ski Japan: February update & focus on Hokkaido

Last time you might remember that I reported on a very good start to the snow season in Japan – in particular, Hokkaido. Niseko base had received around 6m of snowfall by the end of December and by early February that had increased to over 9m, with considerably more than that on the slopes. Snowfall consistency may not have been quite as impressive in January and the first part of February, but I’d say those numbers are still pretty good - and as this article goes online there are some exciting conditions to be enjoyed. It's very difficult to generalise the ski season in Japan as a whole simply because the popular/larger ski resorts are located over such a huge…