Archive for December, 2008

Still More Heavy Snow In Europe, Fresh Snow In North America

December 19th, 2008

-       The heavy snowfall continues, resorts in the Pyrenees post new
record for accumulations.
-       Snow depths in Italy touch five metres (16 feet).
-       Healthy snowfall at last in western North America.
-       Summer skiing cancelled in southern hemisphere due to warm weather.

It’s now ten weeks since the first heavy snowfalls were reported in the Alps
and the snow is continuing to come down by the bucket load in many areas. reports that apart from the duration of the snowfall
obviously setting ski resorts up for a memorable season, what’s also unusual
is that almost all of the world’s major ski regions have received well above
average pre-season snowfall, usually one area will do better than another.
However this time almost everywhere has above average snow.

Along with the Alps there have been huge falls in the Dolomites, resorts in
the Pyrenees have reported record accumulations for this early in the
season. In North America the East Coast has had a good start and whilst the
Rockies and most recently the West Coast initially had more challenging
conditions early on, they’re now rapidly gaining ground.  Only parts of
Eastern Europe are currently lagging behind.

Although great for skiers and boarders the snow has caused many practical
problems in Europe however with’s regional staff reporting
villages cut off and without power for periods, airports and railway lines
closed and on the mountains a high avalanche risk as some of the more recent
snow has been heavy during a period of warmer temperatures.  There have been
deaths on the mountains already as a result and Skiinfo strongly advises
everyone to stay on the marked runs and keep a close eye on avalanche
warnings when in the mountains.

France continues to receive heavy snowfalls in the Alps and Pyrenees with
Skiinfo issuing powder alarms of up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow at some
areas.  Montgenèvre got another  40cm (16 inches) and Val d’Isère 20cm
(eight inches) more on Tuesday alone.  But all the snow means there is a
high risk of avalanche everywhere.
The greatest snow depths are reported at Valberg  260cm (8.7 feet) and Isola
2000 250cm (8.3 feet), but many resorts have base depths of more than two
metres (6.7 feet), including Meribel, where the Freestyle World Cup is being
staged today.

In Austria snow falls and snow depth are if anything, even greater than
France – although with everywhere in the happy position of having so much,
why quibble over a few inches?  The Mölltal Glacier reports  310cm (over 10
feet) and Obergurgl 255cm (8.6 feet).

Fresh snowfalls totaling up to 1.2m (four feet) have been reported at some
Austrian resorts over the past week with Nassfeld Hermagor reporting 120cm
of new snow, Bad Gastein 95cm (over three feet).

Snowfalls in Germany to the north have been more modest with Balderschwang
receiving 20cm (eight inches) more last Friday, taking base depths to 100cm
(40 inches) on upper slopes, one of the deepest in the country.
Switzerland has once again received big snowfalls in the past week with
Zermatt, once again, one of the leading beneficiaries receiving yet another
85cm (nearly three feet) over the past seven days.  Nearby Saas Fee got 65cm
(26 inches) and St Moritz 50cm (20 inches) ahead of hosting the FIS Alpine
Ski World Cup Ladies Super Combined tomorrow 19 December, Downhill on
Saturday 20 December, and Super G on Sunday 21 December.  Disentis has the
most snow with 350cm (nearly 12 feet) ion upper slopes.  Saas Fee has 288cm
(nearly 190 feet) and Zermatt 250cm (over eight feet).

To the south the snowfall that has brought parts of Italy to a standstill
has not let up with the country’s north east getting the heaviest falls in
the past week which has partially cut off some ski towns like La Thuile and
Sauze d’Oulx.  As a result Alagna in Monterosa has some of the greatest snow
depths in the world at present with 420cm (14 feet) on upper slopes although
Arabba in the dolomites leads the way with 480cm (16 feet).  Many other
resorts now have three metres plus (over ten feet) bases.

The huge snowfalls in the Pyrenees have perhaps been the biggest snow story
of the past month, because conditions have been rather lackluster there in
recent seasons. In Andorra virtually all runs are open and snow depths have
reached 170cm (nearly six feet) in VallNord, with similar conditions in
GrandValira, which reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow on Monday.

It’s much the same on both the Spanish and French side of the chain with
Spain’s Baqueria Beret reporting that the more than four metres of snow it
has received in the past month is the most it has ever received this early
in the season. It currently has 225cm (7.5 feet) on upper slopes.  Many
Spanish  resorts have reached two metres (seven feet) of fresh powder snow

In Norway there will be 50 ski resorts open this weekend and
reports eight of them are expecting over 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow over
the next four days.  XC skiing is fantastic too.

Does all this snow mean that global warming is a myth? We’ve noticed our
weekly reports in recent weeks have been appearing on websites of
organizations who believe they do! Well, alas, probably they don’t. The
exceptionally heavy snowfall is great but fits the long term pattern of
increasing extremes of weather rather than being any long term guarantee
that the global warming projections are wrong. We can always hope of course
and as it’s likely to take decades more to prove the matter one way or the
other, we’ll have a while yet to wait and see.

Those who do think the heavy snow in the Alps means there’s no global
warming will want to skip over the fact that in Eastern Europe conditions
remain ‘challenging’ with only Bansko in Bulgaria open and with very limited
terrain on largely machine made snow.  Borovets reported light snowfall
early in the week but needs much more.

In Scotland the situation has deteriorated a little in the past week with
warmer temperatures bringing a thaw and Glenshee no longer open until the
next snow comes. There’s very limited terrain open at Cairngorm and the
Lecht with the situation being reviewed daily.

In the southern hemisphere too the resort of Whakapapa in New Zealand which
has managed to offer summer skiing the past few years and had great snowfall
over their winter months has just announced it won’t be offering Christmas
skiing this year due to recent warm weather melting the remaining snow too
In North America the one area that had been having serious problems with
lack of snow – the West Coast to the rest of the Rockies, has at last had
some healthy falls in many areas with most resorts finally opening or able
to open more terrain,

“A strong cold North Pacific winter storm brought snow at a rate of 1 inch
(2.5cm) per hour, with snow fall totals ranging between 22 and 36 inches,”
Squaw Valley USA in California reported on Monday.  “The US National Weather
Service is calling for another 18-30 inches and continued snow showers are
in the forecast through to Tuesday December 23rd.”

Other parts of North America have been having more good snowfalls too. In
Colorado Jen Brill of Silverton sent a picture of the ski area shuttle bus
buried in snow (attached) and reported, “The total from the last seven days
is 55 inches (nearly 1.4 metres) of new snow.  It continues to snow hard
today so we have not been able to get a depth from the upper mountain but it
likely exceeds two feet (60cm)  of new snow. “

There’s been more snow in Canada too. Marmot Basin which was one of the
first on the continent to open last month and has had consistently good snow
since we received 55cm (22 inches) of new snow over the past week and a half
and 20cm 9eight inches) of new snow last Friday alone.

“This means we will be opening a whole bunch more runs and ski lifts this
weekend as conditions are superb.” said the resort’s Brian Rode.

Visit to sign up for powder alarms from your favourite
resorts, check current snow conditions and projected snowfalls with snow
finder as well as exchange news and views in the Skier’ Lounge.

For the current top five snow depths in countries across Europe please see:  also projects where the snow is likely to fall in the near
future through its Snow Finder service:

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Ski & snow news

Full snow roundup from the Ski Club of GB

December 1st, 2008


INTRODUCTION Heavy snowfalls on both sides of the Atlantic over the weekend further boosted the superb early season conditions.

AUSTRIA Snow fell across Austria over the weekend. Up to 35cm fell on the upper slopes at some resorts Obergurgl (70/246cm) is reporting 30cm of fresh snow on Monday morning in time for the lifts opening and the snowfalls are expected to continue through the day. Their upper base of 246cm is usually common in March, so to have a base that deep in December is fantastic. Only four lifts are open and the heavy snow means visibility is very poor so take care on the mountain.The Ski Welt area opened some lifts over the weekend. Ellmau (20/50cm) had good conditions and with fresh snow forecast it should be great when the Ski Welt opens daily from 6th November.The Arlberg region is now open daily. St Anton (50/110cm), Lech 50/105cm) and Zurs (55/105cm) are all operating a total of fifty lifts. Great powder was on offer at each resort at the weekend and it is snowing again on Monday!

FRANCE Alpe dHuez (50/130cm) opened over the weekend and conditions are brilliant considering it is so early in the season. Five lifts are in operation on Monday and with snow falling, the conditions should be very good for the early part of the week.Val dIsere (60/110cm) opened this weekend. There are thirty lifts running on Monday giving access to a lot of great skiing. Tignes (36/100cm) also officially opened for their winter season over the weekend. There are now nineteen lifts running and with the fresh snow that is falling conditions are very good Chamonix (20/105cm) opened one lift this weekend but they are currently closed during the week. Conditions were reported to be brilliant with plenty of fresh powder on offer and very few people on the slopes. Once again, the Portes du Soleil has some of the best conditions in France with Chatel reporting up to 120 cm @ 2200 m.

SWITZERLAND Zermatt (30/250cm) has had 40cm of snow fall since Sunday morning and all fifty of their lifts are now open. Superb fresh snow conditions are providing great riding, and with so many lifts running the slopes will feel really empty. It is windy on the glacier though so take care whilst enjoying all that fresh snow Saas Fee (59/224cm) is also experiencing the same snow storm. 30cm has fallen across the whole mountain since Sunday and it is still falling on Monday morning. The storm has affected lift operations however and only five lifts are open on Monday. Once the storm has passed the rest of the lifts should re-open Andermatt (60/300cm) has a very deep snow base on the upper slopes and the fresh snow over the weekend has provided excellent conditions. More snow is forecast towards the end of the week.
ITALY Huge amounts of fresh snow have fallen across Italy over the weekend. Many resorts have received 100cm new snow since Friday on the upper slopes. Passo Tonale (120/370cm) has had enough snow to double its snow base on the lower slopes and the 370cm of snow on the glacier is fantastic. More snow is forecast through the week but it is expected to be heaviest today, Monday. Livigno (128/220cm) also received a huge dump of snow this weekend and it hasnt stopped yet. Only two lifts are open on Monday as a result of the poor visibility and heavy snow. Their base has also doubled in depth across the whole mountain since Friday which is incredible. When more lifts open the conditions should be phenomenal Cervinia (65/230cm) is also benefiting from the fresh snow. They have received 20cm since Sunday and the nine open lifts on Monday provide great access to the fresh powder. Today, Monday, it is also very snowy.
ANDORRA All our reported Andorran resorts have opened for the season. There are great conditions to be enjoyed across the region due to the fresh snow that fell over the weekend. It is snowing lightly on Monday morning which should help to further improve the conditions.Soldeu (50/120cm) has almost all of their lifts open on Monday which is fantastic given the time of year! 97% of their ski area is open so there is plenty of great terrain to enjoy.
NORWAY/SWEDEN Fresh snow fell at some resorts in Norway over the weekend. Geilo (50cm) and Hemsedal (55/65cm) received 15cm and 20cm respectively. The cold temperatures across the region at the moment ensure the snow is being kept in great condition. re (40/57cm) in Sweden has opened two more lifts since Friday. They have received a dusting of snow over the weekend which has helped to improve the piste conditions a little.
GERMANY Feldberg (25/45) continues to offer some good skiing. Six lifts are open on Monday and there is a light dusting of fresh snow on the pistes.Six lifts are open at Garmisch (0/80cm). They have opened some of the lower runs but the cover is quite thin, so ride with care.The rest of our reported German resorts are yet to open for the 2008/9 season.
BULGARIA Bansko (10/40cm) opened over the weekend. Two lifts are open on Monday which gives access to several limited pistes. Snow cover is largely manmade but this was helped by some fresh snow they had at the end of last week.All our other reported Bulgarian resorts are not yet open for the 2008/9 season.

SCOTLAND Our reported Scottish resorts are all closed on Monday but there is fresh snow on the ground and more is forecast to fall during the week.

USA The resorts we report on in Colorado have received a very welcome dump of snow. Loveland (122cm) and Arapahoe Basin (61cm) have both received over 90cm of fresh snow since Friday. They have been waiting for a big dump of snow for a long time now so this is very welcome. Breckenridge (58/137cm) has seen a massive increase in the upper base depth this weekend. Great powder can be enjoyed across the whole mountain.On the east coast the temperature has risen, but they are still enjoying good skiing conditions. Killington (46/76cm) received 13cm of fresh snow on Sunday so conditions are very good. Sunday River (61/91cm) is still enjoying the fresh snow it received at the end of last week. It is quite warm though so the snow is a bit soft, especially in the afternoon.

CANADA Whistler (47cm) is open on Monday. Skiing is possible on both Whistler and Blackcomb and conditions are generally good. Some fresh snow would be beneficial as pistes lower down are suffering in the wet precipitation Sun Peaks (37cm) opened two more lifts over the weekend so they now have four in operation. A light dusting of fresh snow over the weekend helped improved piste conditions Silver Star (26/37cm) and Big White (31cm) are both waiting for new snowfalls before they can open. Snow fell over the weekend but it wasnt enough for them to be able to open. Big White needs a base of 60cm to be able to open the beginner runs as it is quite rocky. Silver Star needs slightly less but there is still not enough yet.

EUROPEAN WEATHER OUTLOOK Following the huge snowfalls of the weekend, the week ahead looks to be a quiet one across most of Europe. The last of the heavy snow should clear away on Monday night leaving behind it cold but dry air. Clear, sunny skies and deep powder are to be expected! However the western corner of the Alps, predominantly France, should see the heavy snow continue. Alpe DHuez is expecting 102cm to fall by next weekend. The rest of the French resorts are all expecting between 40 and 60cm by the weekend.

NORTH AMERICAN WEATHER OUTLOOK Colorado received a much needed dump of snow over the weekend. The temperatures across the region look to remain fairly low for the week ahead which is good news. Breckenridge is only expecting 5cm of snow by the weekend so it should be largely dry. The colder weather will help keep the snow in very good shape so expect the powder conditions to last through the week Big Sky in Montana is expecting 10cm of snow by the weekend and also fairly low temperatures. This weather is typical of the rest of North West America.Over on the east coast it should also be dry for the week. Temperatures are expected to fluctuate a bit, some days will be very cold and others quite warm. Snow making should be possible when it is cold so the snow is likely to remain in good condition. The resorts in British Columbia, Canada, are all expecting light snow throughout the week, which is good news for Big White and Silver Star. They are still awaiting sufficient snowfalls to open. Revelstoke is expecting 33cm of snow through the week and the fairly cold temperatures mean it will fall as snow apart from down to the very lowest levels. Eastern Canada will be largely dry and, like eastern America, temperatures are likely to fluctuate.

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Excellent early season snow conditions across Europe

December 1st, 2008

European ski resorts have been treated to heavy persistant snowfall over the past week, accompanied by sub zero temperatures. This has lead to many ski resorts opening early for the 2008/2009 season.

Across France, the resorts that opened on the 29th November included:

Chamonix, La Clusaz, Les Houches, Les Contamines-Montjoie, Val d’Isere, six of the Portes du Soleil resorts (Avoriaz, Chatel, les Gets on the French side, as well as Champery, Morgin and Torgon for the Swiss), and Les Aillons in the Bauges near Chambery.

Also, excellent ski conditions have been reported in Scotland, with the Scottish resorts claiming to be the first non glacial European resorts to open this winter.

Temperatures are forecast to remain low with snow falling for the next few days. This should be enough to ensure excellent pre Christmas skiing and boarding in most European resorts.

For more information, check out our ski resort weather forecasts.

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