A brief glimpse of the sun for snowy Cervinia this morning
J2Ski Snow Report 18th January 2018
It's snowing big time (again) in the Alps this week...
This Week's Snow Headlines
- Snowstorms close ski slopes in the Alps again.
- Whistler base depth reaches 2m after 25cm of snow in past few days.
- Scottish ski areas report up to 70cm of fresh snow in 72 hours.
- Light snow on slopes in Australia in mid-summer there.
- Engelberg's base depth reaches 5.3m - the world's deepest.
After a fairly calm five or six days in much of Europe, stormy weather has returned with some big snowfalls now underway and expected to continue through the weekend. The new snowfall is accompanied by strong winds, forcing some ski areas to temporarily close large swathes of their ski terrain.
So far however the conditions do not seem as extreme as the storm a fortnight ago, with the Chamonix Valley, for example, managing to keep 20-30% of its terrain open. Once the weather clears... already impressive snow depths will have increased further.
Elsewhere conditions are good in most of the world's major ski regions including the Dolomites and Pyrenees. Scandinavia and Scotland have also seen significant snowfall leading to some of the best snow conditions at the latter for some years. Across the Atlantic it's a continually improving picture in Western USA, which had been suffering a snowfall drought, with ever better conditions elsewhere on the continent too.
Further afield, Japan is having an epic season with huge snowfall totals and even ski areas in Australia have reported unseasonal snowfalls.
In the Alpine Forecast
The snowfall now in progress across a wide area of the Alps is expected to continue through into the early part of next week. Heaviest snow is expected to the North and West, with accumulations likely to exceed 1 metre in and around parts of the northern French Alps.
Elsewhere should still see 20cm to 50cm across a wide area.
Clearer weather is expected to follow from Tuesday.
Avalanche risk levels remain very high over a wide area and this will continue for a while.
Please be patient; exercise caution at all times and keep to the pistes until local authorities say it's safe. If going off-piste, carry avalanche safety kit (transceiver, shovel and probe) and do not ski alone.
See when and where it's going to snow...
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Parts of Austria have seen some big snowfalls – up to 50cm in 24 hours – in the past few days. There have also been strong winds – a factor across the Alps – which closed some areas including the Stubai glacier on Wednesday. However the national (and international) focus is on Kitzbuhel in the Tirol where the Hahnenkamm races will take place through the end of this week. At least there won't be any problem with lack of snow cover this year. Resorts reporting big snowfalls yesterday included the Arlberg (50cm), Galture and Silvretta (40cm), Flachau, Alpbach and Obrtauern (30cm). Base depth on the Dachstein glacier (also closed Wednesday) is up to 4.6m.
Stormy conditions in France over the next few days – almost a repeat of storm Eleanor a fortnight ago, but thankfully seeming not quite so severe. That said La Plagne closed its slopes yesterday (Wednesday 17th January), blaming gale force winds and heavy snowfall, and advised resort visitors to stay indoors. Snowfall yesterday was 20-40cm at many areas with the biggest snowfalls in the bigger resorts - 30cm at Tignes and Val d'Isere, 25cm at Flaine and 21cm at Courchevel. The snow and at times strong winds are expected to continue to the weekend though, potentially adding up to a metre more snow by Saturday at some resorts.
Lots of snow falling in Italy too but violent gales as well, particularly in the West, and a number of ski areas including Cervinia, Monterosa and La Thuile were closed on Wednesday as the storm raged. Little fresh snow stats had been produced as we completed this report but we expect some impressive numbers to start coming in from later on Thursday. Further East in the Dolomites conditions have been close to perfect in recent weeks with the region fully open with fresh snow on its slopes but escaping some of the stormy weather excesses further west. Cervinia has one of the deepest bases in the country at 3m/10 feet.
Swiss ski areas have seen some of the biggest snow falls of the latest storm. Les Marecottes reported the greatest accumulation so far - 75cm in 24 hours taking its 72 hour total to 90cm (three feet). The snow arrived in most cases with very strong winds leading many areas to fully or mostly close on Wednesday 17th. Conditions should gradually improve whilst staying snowy/windy through the rest of the week. Engelberg's snow depth is up to 5.3m, the deepest in the world, but depths are good across most leading resorts – 4.4m at Andermatt, 395cm at Crans Montana, 380cm at Saas Fee, 318cm at Laax and 305cm at Murren. So it's looking good for the remainder of the season in Switzerland. Most areas are forecast to get 40-50cm more snow by the end of Saturday.
Some healthy snowfalls in Bulgaria over the past few days with 10cm reported at both Bansko and Borovets, taking upper slope depths to 90cm and 115cm respectively. Most runs in the country are open except at Vitosha which reports only a 5-30cm base and 2 of its 7 runs available. Elsewhere in the East not much fresh snow reported but bases look good at up to 2.9m at Kanin-Bovec in Slovenia.
Scotland continues the good start to 2018 with some big snowfalls in the past 48 hours – Cairngorm above Aviemore reported 34cm of fresh snow on Wednesday morning over the previous 24 hours. Strong winds and blizzard conditions did close some areas on Wednesday but these have eased now and all five areas are open. Earlier in the week there had been a brief thaw following more than two weeks of mostly sub zero temperatures but it has been cold again since.
Things are continuing to look good in the Pyrenees; there has been plenty of fresh snow, particularly on the French side, over the past week and nearly all of the ski runs are open in the region with healthy base depths. A big snowfall is currently forecast for the region with 30cm of fresh snow expected in many areas in Andorra, France and Spain on Friday/Saturday. Base depths are around the 80-120cm mark in Andorra but up to 2.4m in Spain and France.
Lots of fresh snow in Scandinavia in recent days with up to 58cm reported at Vradal in Norway in the last 72 hours. Roldal has the deepest base in the country at 2.8m and has had 45cm of fresh snow too. The region's largest resort, Are, just got a couple of centimetres of snow and has maintained its 85cm base. No fresh snow reported in Finland but bases are fine for the region at 70-80cm.
Conditions continue to be good across most of Canada with little Massif du Sud in Quebec the first in the country to claim a 3m/10 foot plus base this week (303cm). On the West coast, Whistler has also got up to a 2m base depth following 25cm more snow in the past few days. It is operating with almost all runs open (177 of 200 on Wednesday). Most of the West of Canada is set to be dumped on in the run up to the weekend whilst in the East cold conditions persist allowing good skiing at most areas here too.
No huge snowfalls in the US over the past week, the biggest 20-30cm in Washington State and Alaska in the northwest. Alpental in the Northwest has the country's deepest base at 338cm. The snow last week further south in Colorado, California and Utah has allowed resorts to open more terrain. The largest ski resort in the country, Park City in Utah, now has a 51-99cm base and has increased its open terrain to around a third from about 10% a few weeks ago with 123 of its 347 trails open – still way below where it would like to be but a big improvement.