Issued: 16 October 2019
By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne
Our latest roundup of snow conditions around the world. Each section that follows below goes into detail country by country. Clicking the map thumbnail will take you to our dynamic snow forecast map for the latest detail (where you can also overlay live weather & reported conditions). Weather outlooks for Europe and North America can be found at the end of this roundup.
The big snow news of the week was the start of North America’s 2019-20 season at the weekend. Heavy snowfall we forecast on Wednesday-Friday last week duly rolled into the west of the continent and with high altitude areas already having built bases with snow-making over the past fortnight the race was on to actually be the first to open their slopes. It was a race won by Arapahoe Basin which opened at 3.30pm on Friday afternoon after Keystone said it would be open first thing Saturday.
In Europe, more ski areas have opened taking the total already having started the 19-20 ski season to 16. The latest to open were in Switzerland and Austria thanks to glaciers and in Finland, thanks to snow farming. Half of the 16 are in Austria where the already open areas are adding more terrain. It has just been announced that the French 19-20 season will start on Saturday too with Tignes announcing a limited opening.
The Southern Hemisphere’s 2019 season almost ended at the weekend with all areas, except for one mountain in New Zealand, believed to be now closed until 2020. Indeed there was fresh snowfall in New Zealand on Sunday as half a dozen still open centres ended their seasons. The one mountain that is still open for snowsports, Ruapehu, has announced it may be open for another 4-6 weeks though, long after everyone else albeit if only one lift is open at weekends when the weather is good. November is the last month before the start of meteorological summertime south of the Equator though.
Australia / New Zealand / Argentina / Chile / South Africa / Lesotho / Austria / France / Switzerland / Italy / Andorra / Norway/Sweden / Germany / Bulgaria / Japan / Scotland / USA / Canada / South America Weather Outlook / Southern Hemisphere / Europe Weather Outlook / North America Weather Outlook
Austria now has eight ski areas open, half the total in Europe, after the Kitzsteinhorn (0/35cm) opened at the weekend. Conditions are glorious and freshly groomed snow sits under a blue sky. But with more and more areas open in Austria, competition is hotting up to offer the most terrain for the longest ski day. Pitztal (10/30cm) announced at the weekend it had all runs open whilst other areas announced a more gradual addition of runs (20 red and 6 blue at the Stubai for example), taking its open terrain to 13km, and the ski day extended to 3.45 or
The season start delay in France continues into its third week with Tignes, which had aimed to open in late September, but the end of the wait is nigh with the resort announcing
There are three ski areas open in Switzerland , after three months with only two, as the Titlis glacier above Engelberg (0/40cm) has re-opened for its long season through to next May. It joins
Two small ski areas remain open in Italy, Passo Stelvio (50/150cm), which is in the final few weeks of its spring to summer ski season and Val Senales (15/30cm) which is into the second month of its eight-month season through to next spring. The latter has fairly limited terrain open, around 3km of runs mostly being used by teams for race training at present. A third Italian ski area, Cervinia, is scheduled to re-open at the end of next week.
There are currently no ski areas open in the Iberian peninsular and resorts in the region don’t normally open until the very end of November at the earliest. That said a late October snowfall last year did lead to at least one area opening early at the very end of October.
Levi ,in Finland , is the latest Scandinavian area to open thanks to snow-farming. The country’s largest resort opened a run on its main slopes using snow saved from last season. Conditions were nice and frosty on the day, last Friday, to give a nice wintery feel. It joins fellow Lapland ski area Ruka which opened a week before and the Galdhopiggen glacier on Scandinavia’s highest slopes, in Norway , which is in the final month of its unusual spring-summer-autumn only ski season.
There’s nowhere currently open in Germany where most of the country’s ski areas traditionally open for the season in December. The Zugspitze Glacier, which operates the country’s highest lifts and usually has its longest season, expects to start its 2019-20 season in mid-November.
Eastern Europe has already seen some snowfall on higher slopes in the Tatra Mountains but the region’s ski areas do not usually open before November at the earliest, with most not doing so until well into December.
There are no ski areas currently open in Asia. Resorts in Japan tend to start operations in the latter half of November or later.
There are no ski areas currently open in Scotland and there has not yet been any snow seen on the country’s mountain tops. It is not impossible that one of the country’s ski
The US ski season got underway on Friday afternoon when
There has been more significant snowfall in Western Canada over the past week. For several areas in Alberta and BC it’s the second big falls of the autumn so far. Several resorts including Panorama are continuing their snow-making efforts; however, none are actually scheduled to open for the season until early November – although that’s now only about three weeks away. In fact, Mont Saint Sauveur on the east coast may be the first to open in the country as it has been in previous years, using snow-making to open a run or two in the latter half of October, if weather conditions cooperate and it’s cold enough. The focus for snow news in Canada has switched a little this week with news of the first snow on higher slopes in eastern Quebec, where some resorts are reported to have already started snow-making. This is a good sign for the ski area that often manages to be the first to open in Canada in mid-late October each autumn: Mont Saint Sauveur. Otherwise, the first
Almost all ski areas are now closed in the Andes with Cerro Castor in southern Argentina one of the most recent to end their 2019 ski season describing it as having been ‘epic’. Whilst the northern and western Andes had a very poor snow season. Further south and east conditions were much better. The only large ski area known to be still operational, until the coming weekend at least, is Cerro Catedral (35/90cm) near Bariloche in Argentina. There’s no fresh snow here and temperatures are generally in the +5 to +10 bracket from top to bottom of the mountain so a thaw is underway but so far not too severe.
It is looking like a fairly cool week ahead on Mt Ruapehu with temperatures ranging between a few degrees above and a few below Celcius on the mountain, more consistently above freezing at the base. Another week of mixed weather with sunny days interspersed with days of snow/sleet/rain.
It’s a snowy week ahead in the Alps with some high slopes potentially in line for several feet (60cm) of snowfall over the next seven days. The heaviest snowfall has already begun and will continue through Wednesday and another wave is expected in the latter half of the weekend ahead, with more sporadic snowfalls in between. It looks like powder conditions for already open glaciers and base building for the thousands of areas aiming to open in November and December. The snowfall looks like it will be slightly heavier in the eastern Alps but there’s plenty forecast for the French Alps too. There’s a chance that some areas in the Pyrenees could open in early November, although it’s more likely that it will be towards the end for most. There have been cold fronts in the area bringing a few more
It’s looking like a fairly quiet week in Canada except on the western side of the country and the western half of BC where some significant snow may fall over the coming days with coastal resorts hit hardest. Depending on how exactly the weather patterns play out there could be several feet of snow here (60cm+) up high. Inland it will be more like 10-15cm. There’s little snow in the forecast in the USA, but what snow does fall will most likely be up high in north-western states again including Oregon, Washington, Utah