La Hoya resort
La Hoya resort this week

Issued: 14 September 2022

By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne



World Overview

This time next month most ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere will have ended their 2022 seasons, hopefully celebrating the first winter in three that they’ve been able to operate without pandemic closures. The first few have already ended their seasons but most will at least make it to the final weekend of September.

With spring underway its no surprise that, overall, we have seen temperatures rise and not a lot of snowfall over the last seven days. There has though been some fresh snowfall, particularly in New Zealand and, as the seasons turn on each side of the world, snowfall reported in Europe and North America too.  

There’s been a little light snowfall and some rain in Australia as well. Across in the Andes, which still boasts both the world’s deepest reported snowpack and the resort with the most terrain open (separate resorts in Argentina), it’s been another largely sunny week after last month’s big snowfalls and most ski centres will be closing over the next two weekends. Although a few plan to carry on into October, for most the first time they’ve felt able to since 2019 before the pandemic.

Early signs of winter are increasing in the Northern Hemisphere with glacier ski areas in the Alps reporting their first snow coverings of the autumn at the weekend and colder temperatures further north in Scandinavia allowing the one ski area that should be open but was forced by warm summer temperatures to temporarily close to announce that it’s re-opening this weekend. Two alpine glacier ski areas have announced they plan to open for their 22-23 seasons this weekend and next meaning we’ll finally have more than one centre open again in the Northern Hemisphere. In North America there’s been more early light fresh snowfall reported up high with the Canadian Rockies the beneficiaries this time.

Southern Hemisphere

New Zealand’s ski areas have reported the most snowfall in the Southern Hemisphere over the last seven days, not that there have been big accumulations this week. But the snow that has fallen has been particularly welcome on the country’s North Island, which has been enduring a particularly warm and wet winter for much of the past three months. Otherwise, there has been quite a lot of sunshine here and in Australia where temperatures have also been rising. As the final weeks of the season begin.In the Andes most ski resorts will be closing for their 2022 seasons at the end of this or next week, with just a few big names carrying on into October. It’s been the first full season there since 2019, in some cases the first season at all in three years. Fortunately, it has been a good one in terms of snowfall and successful opening for most resorts, even if the past week, like much of the past month since the last big snowfall, has been predominantly dry and sunny.

AUSTRALIA REPORT

Hotham resort
Hotham resort this week

It’s been a predominantly dry week in Australia, with temperatures warming and the snow softening. Thredbo (85 / 203 cm / 34/81”) still reports that two-metre base though, a very good depth for mid-September in Australia. Perisher (70 / 183 cm / 28/73”) is not far behind on snow depth and is posting the second largest amount of terrain open anywhere in the world (and the most in Australia) with 60 km (38 miles) of runs skiable.  As spring moves forward daytime highs have been getting up to +10C at resort level but overnight lows have still been dipping well below zero for classic springtime freeze-thaw conditions. Most larger ski areas in Australia will be open to the last weekend of September or the first weekend of October.

Falls Creek resort this week

AUSTRALIA FORECAST
The next few days should continue to be dry and sunny but the latter half of the week will see more unsettled weather move in with, unfortunately, some rain likely. But then some decent snowfalls should arrive, potentially bringing 20-40cm (8-16”) more snowfall for the latter half of this week and into the weekend.

NEW ZEALAND REPORT

Mt Hutt resort this week
Mt Hutt resort this week

New Zealand’s ski areas have had a better week, overall, than the previous few with predominantly cold weather and some fresh snowfall. The mood has been the most upbeat at Mt Ruapehu with Whakapapa (11/69cm / 4/28”) and Tūroa (10/35cm / 4/14”) both seeing healthy snowfall at the weekend, which continued through the start of this week.  Tūroa reported 10cm (4”) snowfall on Sunday and opened Alpine Meadow Carpet, and the High Noon Express, with access via the Movenpick, but was then closed again Monday/Tuesday due to gales and avalanche danger. It was a similar story at Whakapapa, which received 15cms (6”) of snowfall overnight Saturday and had its Happy Valley and Valley T-bar open at the weekend but closed at the start of this week. There was snowfall too on the South Island to start this week with Cardrona (80/130cm / 32/52”), where the Winter Games wound up last week, reporting a covering on Monday morning. It and Mt. Hutt (111/ 153 cm / 44/61”) continue to post the most terrain open in the country, around 40km (25 miles) of slopes each. The Remarkables (150/170 cm / 60/64”) reports the deepest snowpack and plans to stay open another month to mid-October.

Mt Ruapedhu resort this week

NEW ZEALAND FORECAST
After the snowy start to the week it should be sunny for the next five days on the South Island. Temperatures gradually rising to reach double-figures by the weekend on lower slopes but staying closer to freezing, or indeed dropping below, up high overnight. The snowy, unsettled weather is expected to last longer, to Thursday/Friday, on the North Island.

ARGENTINA REPORT
Most of Argentina’s ski centres remain open but we are into the final week or two of the 2022 season for many. After the last heavy snowfall in mid-August it has been another largely sunny week for much of the country, but still staying cold, particularly further south. Las Leñas, which can argue it has the most skiable terrain in the continent when its backcountry is included, open this winter for the first time since 2019 (due to the pandemic), has said it will stay open until 30th September; most of the others are going for this coming 16th or the 23rd. However, the country’s largest resort by uplift and groomed terrain, Catedral (10/100cm / 4/40”) near Bariloche, still has the most terrain open worldwide (70km/44 miles of runs) and despite thinning cover at its base says it will stay open for at least a week into October. Caviahue (250/300cm / 100/120”), in the Neuquén region, is posting the deepest snowpack in the world at present.

Catedral ski resort
Catedral resort this week

ARGENTINA FORECAST
It’s expected to remain sunny and fairly cold, still dropping up to five degrees below freezing overnight. But daytime highs heading towards double figures are likely to impact the snowpack.

CHILE REPORT
We’re into the final weeks of the 2022 season in Chile with most areas opting to shut after either this coming weekend, or the one after. El Colorado (60/100cm / 24/40”) has announced their season end will be next week on  Monday, September 19th, but have announced extended daily opening hours for the final week from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs. It also has the most terrain open in the country with 50km (31 miles) of slopes to enjoy. Nevados de Chillán (50/250 cm / 20/100”) continues to post the country’s deepest base and the second-deepest in South America, it has about two-thirds of its terrain still open. El Colorado/​Farellones (60/100 cm / 24/40”) reports the most runs open in the country, all 50km (31 miles). It expects to stay open to Sunday 25th September. As to the weather, it has been a largely sunny week with just some light snow showers reported in the last 24 hours.

CHILE FORECAST
It will stay predominantly sunny for the rest of this week. Temperatures should still drop well below freezing overnight but climb, potentially up to double figures above freezing on lower slopes in the afternoon. So that’ll produce thawing conditions for the final weeks of the season.

Europe

 The weather is definitely starting to turn in Europe this week with fresh snowfall reported on glaciers, albeit a thin covering initially, and news that several plan to open for their 22-23 seasons over the next two weekends, finally ending the unprecedented situation of the past month when we’ve only had one outdoor ski area open in Europe and indeed for the past few weeks the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Up in Scandinavia temperatures are cool day and night in the mountains now and the one glacier centre there that would be open now, had it not been so warm at the height of summer, has announced it plans to reopen this coming weekend.

ALPS REPORT

Zugspitze resort this week
Zugspitze resort this week

 We finally have clear signs of a changing of the seasons with fresh snowfall reported on a number of glaciers in the Alps on Friday and Saturday. Italy’s Val Senales and Austria’s Pitztal glacier announced they hope to open for their 22-23 seasons at the coming weekend and the weekend afterwards, respectively, ending a period of nearly two months when only one ski area has been open in the Alps, Hintertux (15/25cm / 6/10”). It also saw fresh snowfall on its slopes that have been largely grey ice for the past few months with ribbons of white-ish piste of machine made snow it itself describes as “extremely icy” in its snow reports. That report hasn’t changed and skiing conditions were actually hampered a little by the wintry weather with low cloud impacting visibility as the snow arrived, falling as rain at lower elevations. Another ski centre posting pictures of its first snow of the autumn was the Zugspitze glacier, Germany’s highest ski centre. There’s no news yet for the ski centres that should be open but were forced to close in July due to the hot weather making their glaciers unskiable. They include Europe’s highest lift-accessed and formerly year-round slopes at Zermatt, Italy’s Passo Stelvio and another Swiss area, Saas Fee, which has opened to teams for training but not yet to the general public. In other snow news Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Italian Dolomites, has announced it intends to open for the season at the end of next month if conditions allow.  It’s one of about 20 ski areas due to open over the coming 4-6 weeks including Les 2 Alpes and Tignes in France, Engelberg and St Moritz in Switzerland and about 10 Austrian areas including Kitzbuhel and Solden.  Following the weekend snowfall the first few days of this week have seen more sunshine but with temperatures staying low in the mountains.

Val Senales resort this week
Val Senales resort this week

ALPS FORECAST
Continuing cool with more unsettled weather forecast in the high Alps over the remainder of this week and a chance of more high altitude snowfall, although rain will be more likely at times and at lower elevations.  Highs of about +7 at 3,000m midweek but closer to freezing even in the afternoon by the end of the week and always dropping below freezing overnight at these altitudes.

SCANDINAVIA REPORT

 It has definitely turned colder in Scandinavia with the one ski area that is operating for race teams, if not yet again for the general public (Scandinavia’s highest slopes), the summer ski area at Galdhopiggen (0/50cm / 0/20”), seeing temperatures dipping as low as -8C over night and not getting above +5 in the daytime. It says it will re-open from 17th September and its season lasts until early November.  It’s also now only three weeks until the Finnish ski areas of Levi and Ruka are due to open, both using snowfarming, saving snow from last season in piles through the summer then spreading a few kilometres back out on the slopes in the autumn, to create runs. Finally, Stockholm has opened a 500 metre ski slope in the past week, although it uses the dry slope surface from Neveplast for skiing on, not snow. The same is used at the heat-to-power plant ski slope at Copenhagen in Denmark.

SCANDINAVIA FORECAST
The direction of travel continues to look good for the upcoming start of the Scandinavian ski season with low temperatures expected to just keep getting lower towards the weekend and be in the low single figures during the daytime and well below freezing overnight in high mountain areas. There’s little or no snow (or rain) forecast, just a mixture of sunny and cloudy days.

USA / Canada

NORTH AMERICA INTRO

The most snow excitement of the last week in North America was reported in Alberta and BC, in Canada, with fresh snowfall on high slopes. Sunshine, near Banff in the Rockies, turned white right down to its base creating a huge positive reaction to images posted on social media. Elsewhere, it has been mostly warmer than usual with Californian ski centres reporting a fresh heatwave and unfortunately more ski areas threatened by fresh forest fires as we approach the first anniversary of Sierra at Tahoe being severely damaged by a fire last autumn. It does hope to re-open this year though after being closed last winter. Otherwise, more and more ski areas have been publishing their target November – December opening dates and highlighting long range forecasts of a triple-dip La Niña weather pattern predicted for the ski season which some interpret as potentially meaning a snowier season than usual in Colorado and some other regions.  Here, several resorts still aim to start snowmaking in a few weeks’ time.

Sunshine resort this week

NORTH AMERICA FORECAST
Up in western Canada temperatures in the region are just a few degrees up to about 10 degrees above freezing through the 24 hour cycle and there’s quite a mix of sun, cloud, rain and wind all forecast. In mountains on the eastern US we’re again forecasting low overnight temperatures just a few degrees above freezing but daytime highs will climb higher and there’ll be more sunshine through the week and not much else.