Archive for January, 2009

Fresh Snow Falls Bringing Powder Top Up To The Alps

January 21st, 2009

*  Lowest temperatures for more than 20 years in Germany.
*  50cm / 20 inches of fresh powder across the Alps In Past 48 Hours.
*  Snow and ice lead to a further spate of deaths in Europe.
*  North America warm in the West, freezing in the East. reports that after a dry and sunny start to the year in
large parts of Europe, large snowfalls have returned to the Alps, and
continued in the Pyrenees.  North America is experiencing unusually warm and
unusually cold temperatures on west and east coasts respectively and there’s
been heavy snow in Scandinavia, plus all five Scottish ski areas are open
today for the first time this winter.

Heavy snow is dumping down in France, where Skiinfo released 43 powder
alarms to subscribers yesterday – the free service that alerts Skiinfo users
when fresh snow is falling to excess in their favourite resorts. It’s good
news for resorts like Chamonix which has been blessed with a great base from
pre-Christmas falls but had not seen any fresh powder for nearly three weeks
since New Year.

The biggest snowfalls have been in the North Alps (up to 50 cm/20 inches) at
resorts including Chatel and Avoriaz.  The latter is claiming the biggest
accumulation in the country over the past week with 55cm, (nearly two feet)
of fresh powder.

The good snowfall has led to high visitation numbers according to Laurence
Girard, manager of the  Taninges – Praz de Lys – Sommand tourist office who
told, “This year we’re benefiting from an exceptional quality
and quantity of snow and  conditions have been perfect since the end of
November.   The resort has seen excellent visitor numbers, the best for
December and January for a long time. ”

In Switzerland it’s resorts in the French-speaking west of the country that
have seen the best of the new snow although there has been plenty of fresh
across most of the nation with the Flims Laax Falera – Alpenarena reporting
28 cm (11 inches) of new snow.  Anzère has claimed the most new powder with
55 cm (22 inches) whilst Les Crosets, lift-linked over the border to the
afore-mentioned avoriaz on the  Portes du Soleil pass, has 40cm (16 inches).
Zermatt reports the most snow with 660cm (22 feet) on Europe’s highest ski

There were ten PowderAlarms in Austria yesterday with the Montafon Silvretta
area posting the most fresh powder with 60cm (24 inches).  Other
beneficiaries include Solden with 36cm (14 inches) Lech Zürs with 20cm
(eight inches) of new snow, St. Anton am Arlberg with 18cm (seven inches)
and Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang both with 15cm (six inches). It’s still
snowing in Austria and up to 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow is expected
through the current 24 hours.

Although it has warmed up a little recently, Germany to the north is
reporting its coldest January to date for 22 years with average temperatures
of minus 5.3 Celcius.

Rolf Köberle of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus said, “Although there has been a
lot of sunshine during the past few weeks, we’ve had the best conditions for
winter sports.  Last night the snow started falling again making the valley
a dreamlike winter scene and bringing up to 35cm (14 inches) of fresh snow.”

Italy has also had some healthy snowfall, especially in the Alps, with issuing dozens of powder alarms for the country.  Passo Rolle
and San Martino Di Castrozza  both reported 50cm (20 inches) of new snow
yesterday with Aprica , Bardonecchia and Livigno also adding more than a
foot (30cm) to their bases.  Arabba still has the most snow in the country
with 480cm (16 feet) on upper slopes. The FIS cancelled training in Cortina
D’Ampezzo for world cup racing later this week due to the heavy snow, they
hope that training will be possible tomorrow and that the races will go
ahead as planned.

The extreme conditions have led to more deaths in Europe with four Italian
climbers dieing on the French side of Mont Blanc following a thousand metre
fall, they were the latest to die after four other climbers died in two
separate incidents at Chamonix the previous week.  A young woman died in Val
d’Isere after falling in to the resort’s river after getting dis-oriented
and in Spain a 24 year old man died in an avalanche whilst snow shoeing in
mountains close to Madrid, the first avalanche death ever recorded in the

It’s still snowing in the Pyrenees continuing the great season for Andorra,
Spain and the French Pyrenean ski areas.  Baqueira Beret on the Spanish side
which has some of the greatest snow depths in the region (225cm/7.5 feet)
reported another 20cm (eight inches) of snow yesterday.  Sierra Nevada has
Spain’s greatest snow depth with 350cm (nearly 12 feet).

In Eastern Europe conditions are continuing to look up with Bansko announced
as the replacement venue for the cancelled World Cup races from St Moritz.

Snow conditions are reported to still be good in the Czech and Slovak
Republics despite warmer weather bringing rain to lower slopes (Snow on the
higher ones)  with more than 230 ski areas operating across the two
countries. Maximum snowfall has been 10cm (four inches) over the past week
with the deepest snow at Chopok in the Low Tatras in Slovakia (180cm/six
feet). A long Polish holiday period has started which the two countries hope
will boost business which was slow in January.

In Scandinavia there have been huge snow falls in the eastern and southern
part of Norway this week, resulting in over 20 powder alarms in the last two
days. It has been snowing a lot in the country’s capital Oslo the last two
days bringing a snow depth of 40cm (16 inches) to the city’s streets,very
good news for ski resorts close to the city.

10 skiresorts have over a metre (40 inches) of snow, see Snowfinder for
Norway forecast more snow in the eastern part of Norway the four next days:
In Sweden after a really warm period there has been more snow, with up to
19cm (eight inches)  reported snowfall in the last days in 15 resorts across
the country with the most snow in Tandådalen and in Kittelfjäll with 15cm
(six inches).  The forecast for the weekend promises even more snow so good
powder conditions for the weekend.

To the west all five Scottish ski centres are open as heavy snow in Western
Scotland allowed the two remaining centres yet to open for 2008-9 – Glencoe
and Nevis Range – to open for the first time.
A glencoe spokesman said, “Heavy snow over the last couple of days has
improved the overall situation on the mountain. All runs are now complete
although some are narrow in places.”

There has been less fresh snow in the East of the country where the other
three centres are located, and have been operating intermittently since back
on Halloween 2008.  However all three remaining centres there (Cairngorm,
Glenshee and The Lecht) are open with limited terrain.

In North America very low temperatures across the east have been the norm,
witnessed by all the warm winter clothing at President Obama’s inauguration
ceremony.  Further north that meant that temperatures hit -40F below in
Maine, and in Ohio -27F was reported to be the lowest recorded temperature
for more than 35 years.  At Bolton Valley ski area in Vermont the lifts were
closed on Friday evening for fear skiers would freeze if there was

To the north Canada’s snow season continues to be largely good with Banff
reporting another 30cm (12 inches) fell in the past week taking depths well
above 180cm (six feet).  This marks something of a dividing line as Western
North America has been experiencing very warm “Spring like” conditions with
temperatures as high as +10C on the slopes in California and British
Columbia.  Heavy snow over the past months means this isn’t a complete
disaster, yet, but a drop in temperature soon would be welcome.

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