We need a bigger shovel... Stubai Glacier this week...
Extraordinary amounts of snow in The Alps, as more resorts open.
The Snow Headlines - 21st November
- More than 100 ski areas now open in northern hemisphere (one still in southern!).
- First reports of base depths reaching 3 metres (10 feet) in Alps and Dolomites.
- Some glacier ski areas report 5-8 feet (1.5-2.4m) of snowfall in 7 days.
- Japan's big ski resorts to start opening from Saturday.
- Ski season underway in Germany on the Zugspitz, the country's highest slopes.
- November snowfall breaks records (already) in parts of the Alps.
It's been another exceptionally snowy week in the Alps with several areas reporting more than 1.5 metres (five feet) of fresh snowfall in the past few days (in some cases on top of similar falls the week before).
November snowfalls have now hit record levels in some Alpine resorts, with a third of the month still to go and more snowfall (albeit not quite so heavy) forecast.
Upper slope base depths on some glaciers which were looking worryingly thin three weeks ago have now reached three metres (10 feet) already, very deep for this early in the season.
Elsewhere in Europe, there's been good snowfall in Scandinavia at the start of this week with resorts reporting up to 50cm of snowfall on Monday/Tuesday in Norway. The World Cup tour goes to Levi in Finland this weekend with its first events since Solden three weeks ago.
It's a less snowy picture over in North America and it has been rather warm on the West but thanks to dozens more (mostly) smaller areas opening there in the past week the world total of open areas has now passed the 100 mark for winter 19-20 as the season gathers pace.
Over in Japan, the 2019-20 ski season is due to get started in several of the country's best-known resorts this weekend, including Niseko. There has been about a foot (30cm) of snowfall so far there, which is better than this time last year, but it is not yet clear if there's enough to open.
It's less than 10 days until the start of meteorological summertime in the southern hemisphere but New Zealand's Whakapapa is reported to be still opening one T Bar lift at weekends to access its remaining snow cover, reported to be still 1.8 metres (six feet) deep in places.
In the Alpine Forecast
More heavy snow in the forecast for Italy (again)...
Attention turns South now, with a likely "Retour d'Est" weather pattern setting up to bring heavy snow to the south of the Alpine ridge; particularly the Aosta Valley, Dolomites, this weekend.
Temperatures in the North and East of the Alps will rise above seasonal averages this week, while the snow eases back there.
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Another week of heavy snowfall in the Austrian Alps has left bases at nearly three metres on the Pitztal glacier, and not much less on the country's other high slopes where bases were between 30 and 60cm just three weeks ago.
Several areas here have had more than 1.5 metres (4.5) feet of snow in the past week, with more heavy snowfall forecast for the coming weekend. This is all good news – other than the increased off-piste avalanche danger – for the early season.
Hintertux has announced it will open its full 1750m vertical from this coming weekend and other resorts are opening ever more terrain as the available ski area continues to expand across the country.
Tignes is no longer the only ski area open in France with a number of smaller resorts opening across the country including Porte Puymorens down in the Pyrenees and several smaller centres in the northern and southern Alps.
Although France has not seen snowfalls as big as further east in Austria and Italy, there has been plenty of snowfall here too with Tignes issuing a powder alarm for 30cm of fresh snowfall in 24 hours last weekend. The next big French area to open will be Val Thorens this weekend, with a major opening festival planned. This event can be hit and miss for snow cover and had to be cancelled or postponed several times 4 or 5 years ago, but this autumn its looking very good indeed with 80cm of snowfall reported to be lying waiting for the first skiers and boarders.
Italy has reported some of the biggest snowfalls of the past week and indeed throughout November. The trend looks set to continue too with Cervinia, which posted 2.2 metres (7.3 feet) of snowfall in the last seven days forecast to see another 60cm (two feet) at the weekend. That's on top of big snowfalls in the first week of the month there too.
In fact, more than a dozen Italian ski areas have posted metre-plus snowfalls in the past week, and they're mostly just the resorts that are already open, or about to, including Madonna di Campiglio, Pila, Livigno, Bormio and Monte Rosa.
The Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale is reporting the deepest base in the world at present with three-metre (10 foot) depth.
Some Swiss resorts have been sharing in some of the big snowfalls of the past week, but it has been a more mixed picture here with the Southern, Central and Eastern sides of the country seeing by far the bigger accumulations of the last seven days.
That said, Veysonnaz in the 4 Valleys reported 40cm of snow in 24 hours to start the week. Saas-Fee was one of the big snowfall gainers with roads closed due to avalanche danger on Monday but opening the biggest lift-served vertical of the season so far, anywhere on the planet, by Wednesday. The newly opened Valley run is 9km long and descends 1,800 vertical metres from the top of the lifts to resort.
Some more big snowfalls are expected this coming weekend with Saas-Fee and Zermatt both expecting another 75cm (2.5 feet) of snow by Sunday morning.
Norway has had rather a snowy week with over 50cm (20 inches) of snow reported by several areas. There's been lighter fresh snow in Finland and Sweden.
Around 20 centres have now opened across the region with bases as deep as a metre reported already (that's a good mid-season stat for the area, so extra good this early). Levi in Finland will host both Women's and Men's World Cup Slalom competitions, the first of the 2019-20 season, this weekend and conditions there are looking good.
Heavy snowfall forecast for the Pyrenees last weekend did not really arrive in the volumes expected as the heavier snowfall was more in central Europe and the eastern alps.
However, four areas are already open here including two in Spain and two in France with Andorra's centres on schedule to open in just over a week's time. Conditions look fairly good with low temperatures allowing snowmakers to build bases and top up the natural cover.
Scottish ski hills have been white for most of November as, unusually for the 21st century, temperatures have stayed low all month. In fact, overnight temperatures have neared double digits below freezing and daytime temps have hardly crept above zero Celsius on many days too. It is warming slightly now but so far not enough for a thaw and warmer weather usually mean precipitation and hopefully snow. Nowhere has opened yet but a few areas, most likely The Lecht or Cairngorm, seem like they could open soon if the good conditions continue and bases build a little more.
The run-up to the 19-20 season continues to look good in most areas further east in Europe with some natural snowfall and cold weather for snowmaking too. The first larger areas expected to open will be in just over a week's time at the end of the month, all being well.
More fresh snow (15-30cm) for already-open areas in Alberta around Banff and Jasper but not many new ski areas opening in the country this week.
Several have opened in Ontario, where, like in the US Midwest to the south, there are ski areas without much vertical but with lots of big, high capacity lifts to get you up the low hills. Blue mountain and horseshoe ski areas have opened for 19-20 here but the number of Canadian areas open is still in single figures with none in BC open as yet.
The US has seen dozens more ski areas open over the past week as the country nears its 'bigger-than-Christmas' Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the end of the month when a lot of business can be done if resorts are open and conditions are good.
Around 60 US centres are now open from coast-to-coast, more than the rest of the world total combined. Many of the open areas are small to medium-sized resorts on the East Coast and in the Midwest which have opened thanks to recent cold weather and snow-making rather than natural snowfall. That said there has been some snowfall in the Eastern US this past week so hillsides are white.
That's not the case in the far West where it has remained stubbornly warm and mostly dry in California so resorts like Mammoth still only have a handful of trails open with machine-made snow.
The picture is much better in the Rockies after their record October snowfall. November has been much drier there too but there has been some snow. However, there is snow in the forecast later this week. Utah's ski season got started on Tuesday with Brighton ski area opening there.
Until next week...