Archive for February, 2009

There’s So Much Snow Everywhere Even Indoor Skiers Move Back Outdoors

February 12th, 2009

*  Unusual snowfall in Europe’s city suburbs lead indoor skiers to ski
*  Huge snow falls means resorts save on snowmaking costs but face big bills
for snow clearing.
*  Avalanche risk remains very high off-piste in many areas due to the high
snow volumes.
*  Zermatt tops seven metre snow depth at the top.
*  Scottish snow conditions reported best for 20 years. reports that recent snow in urban areas has led to ski
instructors who work indoors year round  in the growing number of indoor
snow centres in Europe have been coming outdoors in their lunch hours to
check out the natural snowfall in the car park! The enclosed pictured is of
a staff member from SNO!zone indoor ski centre at Castleford in North
Yorkshire, England, enjoying his lunch breaks doing what he does best -

Back o n Europe’s conventional ski slopes, snowfalls have been continuing in
France throughout the past week with accumulations of up to 110cm (44
inches) over the past seven days and both the Northern Alps and the Pyrenees
doing well.  Sunday February 8th was a particularly snowy day across the
country with issuing  30 powder alarms. , in particular in
Pyrénées and North Alps.

Fresh snowfall yesterday (Tuesday February 10) included 15cm (six inches) at
Montgenèvre and  10cm (Four inches) at Val Thorens.

Val d’Allos 1800 la Foux  currently claims the greatest snow depth in France
with 360cm (12 feet) of snow lying on upper slopes.

Gilles Gravier manager of the local tourist office there told,

“We have not seen a 360cm snow depth since the winter of 1975. On the night
of Friday, February 6th alone we received another metre of snow. These very
big snowfalls require a lot of work clearing the snow and through January we
have spent 120,000 Euros just on snow clearing in the resort.  This quantity
of snow means the avalanche risk off-piste is very high at level 4 on a
scale up to a maximum of 5. ”

The German speaking parts of the Alps have experienced great snowfalls in
recent days with heavy falls in many areas at the weekend and more than 40
powder alarms issued today (Wednesday, February 11th) in Austria and Germany

In Switzerland more than a metre of fresh snow fell in St.Moritz (120cm/four
feet) and also in Zermatt (116 cm) and Saas Fee (90cm) in the past week.
Zermatt is by far the snowiest place in Europe, the mountain top lies buried
under more than seven metres (23 feet) of snow.  Andermatt has reached the
four metre (13 feet) mark.

As a result the risk of avalanches is high and The WSL Institute for Snow
and Avalanche Research in Davos says the danger for the whole Swiss Alps
area is considerable (3) and that avalanches can be unleashed by just one
person. They expect more snow in the north and west of the country tomorrow
(Thursday 12 February).
In Austria many leading resorts got fresh snow over the past seven days and
11 resorts now have snow bases of two and a half metres (eight feet) or more
on top now.  Sölden has received 39cm (16 inches) in the past seven days
with Seefeld adding 22cm (nine inches) and Kaprun – Kitzsteinhorn 20 cm
(eight inches).

In Germany there are a dozen resorts that have had 30cm (12 inches) or more
of fresh snow in the past week and many more with 10-20cm (4-8 inches) more.
Nebelhorn got 30cm (112 inches) and Kleinwalsertal – Fellhorn 20 cm (eight
inches).  The Zuspitzplatt ayt Garmisch has the most snow in the country
with 230cm (nearly eight feet).

In Italy it has been the north of the country that has received the most
snow this week with San Martino Di Castrozza reporting another  60cm (two
feet of snow) and Courmayeur  20cm (eight inches).  Several resorts have now
moved above a total maximum snow depth of five metres (Nearly 17 feet) with
Colere  the first to claim six metres (20 feet) of snow on upper slopes.
The Presena glacier above Passo Tonale is close with 550cm (over 18 feet).

All the snow means the avalanche danger remains high in many parts of the
country with the avalanche danger typically at level 3 on a scale of five.
Two climbers died this week in an avalanche at Cogne in the Aosta Valley
where five and a half metres of snow has fallen this season so far.

Scotland currently has some of the best conditions for years thanks to snow
falls of up to 24 inches (60cm) of snow. Almost all lifts and runs are
operational at the country’s five ski areas and at the weekend two of the
ski areas had to turn-away skiers arriving at mid-morning as they reached
operational capacity. There were about 12,000 people skiing each day.

After the snow temperatures dropped very low, down to a low point of -18
Celcius on Monday at Aviemore which has meant the snow has been maintained
And in a light, powdery condition that is very rare on the Scottish
mountains, more used to a heavier, wetter snow. Thus the resorts are
describing the snow as ‘Alpine.’

Elsewhere in Europe Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth
in Spain and is now reporting more than four metres (over 13 feet) on their
upper slopes.  But also all Pyrenean ski resorts in France, Spain and
Andorra have reached snow depths of more than two metres.

Formigal has depths of up to 2.5 metres (over eight feet) and a minimum of a
metre in the valley. The snow has been falling heavily since the weekend,
with a whole metre falling in just 24 hours.

Reports claim that it is the heaviest snowfall the area has received in 15
years. Yolanda Julian, commercial manager at Formigal told,

“The quality of the snow is exceptional both on and off-piste. It’s just
fantastic! All the lifts are open to allow clients to enjoy Formigal’s 137km
of slopes.”

In Scandinavia the skiing remains good in Norway and Sweden.  “This past
weekend have been truly amazing with snow, snow and more snow.” said
Christer,’s Sweden manager.  “The remarkable thing is that it
has been really cold too, between – 12 and -20C, and still snowing. Now we
are talking light powder – I got 40cm on my car that I had to wipe off
before I went skiing on Saturday, and then got some really nice turns.”
12 Swedish resorts have reported 20cm (eight inches) or more snow in the
last seven days with Vemdalen in the lead with 44cm (18 inches).

The upcoming week there is a ”winter vacation” in Norway, and the ski
resorts are doing their best to keep as many slopes as possible open, and to
give the best possible ski conditions. The forecast is mostly sunny with not
much new snow, but there is lot of snow right now, and it is steadily cold
in most of the ski resorts. Some snow is expected in the western part of
Norway, but not more than approximately 10-20cm (4-8 inches) in the next
four days.

There’s been little new snow in Eastern Europe where skies have been clear
and sunny.  Some resorts such as Pamporovo in Bulgaria, badly need some
fresh and snow is expected in the next few days. Bansko still has the most
with a little over a metre of coverage.

In North America cover remains good on the east Coast with fresh powder on
the west coast providing a much needed top up of increasingly scant
cocverage at some areas there. In The Rockies its a mixed picture with
Colorado resorts receiving a few inches of new snow, again very welcome
after limited fresh snow in recent weeks.  Similarly in Alberta to the north
there’s been new snow at Banff.

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Conditions Still Excellent Across Europe And season Nears Halfway Point

February 6th, 2009

* Heavy falls total a metre in a week reported in Austria and Utah.
* All resorts in Spain have at least a two metre base.
* More resorts report business better than last season, as well as the snow.

* Cold weather in US brings great snow conditions to southern states. reports that the ski season is now more than winter 2008-9
is now two months old for most of the world’s northern hemisphere ski
resorts and is approaching its half way stage.  Across Europe many of the
leading resorts are sitting on bases of two to three metres (7-10 feet)
following spectacular snowfalls in the last six weeks of 2008 and more
sporadic but still generally healthy falls during January, with clear sunny
periods in between.  In short it has been one of the best snow seasons for
many years for most resorts and despite media gloom and doom reporting on
the economy, many ski resorts are reporting business is actually up, in good
part thanks to the great snow. The cover is such that even if no more snow
falls for the rest of the season (extremely unlikely), most now have plenty
to see them through to the end in April or May.

In North America it is a more mixed picture with west coast resorts having
little snow at the start of the season followed by huge downfalls, but then
warm temperatures and a thaw in January. The east coast has had better
conditions and good snowfalls with low temperatures for much of the winter
to date.  These conditions have extended further south than usual giving an
above average season to date for borderline ski areas in southern states
like Tennessee.

In the past week the snow has continued to fall around Europe and North
America with some of the most in Austria and Alberta, Canada.
Alps and Dolomites

Most of the world’s snow fans have their eyes on TV screens where the
cameras are pointing at France this week for the World Alpine Skiing
Championships underway at Val d’isere.  There has been limited fresh snow in
the country over the past week with a dusting in the Alps at the weekend,
the most in the south with resorts Val d’Allos, Auron and Isola 2000 each
reporting 20cm (eight inches) in the past week.  Much larger falls of up to
60cm (two feet) are expected in the next week on the main Alpine resorts,
most of which currently have upper slope depths of two-three metres (7 – 10

On Monday, February 2nd, unusually heavy snowfalls, typically 15cm (six
Inches) affected the north half of France as well as crossing the channel to
South Eastern England. The snow touched both London and Paris.
In Austria more than 20 ski areas are now reporting more than two metres of
snow on their upper slopes.

“Slope conditions in many of the big resorts are reported to be very good,
with skiers lucky enough to be in the Arlberg, Axamer Lizum, Hochzillertal,
Ischgl, Kitzbühel, Silvretta Nova, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, Sillian and the
Zillertal Arena amongst those benefiting. A drop of temperature and more
fresh snow is expected for the weekend.” says Pascal Bovée who reports on
much of the German-speaking parts of the Alps for

Nassfeld received a huge fall of 60cm (two feet) yesterday taking the week’s
total to 95cm (Over three feet).  All 110km of slopes are open but skiers
should stay on marked slopes because the avalanche risk has risen

In Germany to the north the greatest snow depth is on the Zugspitz glacier
by Garmisch Partenkirchen with two metres (Nearly seven feet) of snow.  The
country’s Sauerland (central uplands) has had some of the best conditions of
the past week with up to 20cm (eight inches) of fresh powder.

In Switzerland Zermatt continues to have probably the greatest snow depth of
any ski resort in Europe and possibly the world with 671cm (over 22 feet) on
its glacier.  They must have a very long stick to measure it.  However
several other resorts have bases above three metres now including Andermatt
and Saas Fee.  There’s been less snow in the past week although Andermatt
had 30cm (a foot) more and both Saas Fee and Engadin/St. Moritz reported
another 12cm (four inches) in total.

Italy’s Bardonecchia is hosting the first ever Snowboard FIS World Cup
Slopestyle competition today and tomorrow  (February 4th and 5th) plus
another Halfpipe contest on February 6th and 7th.  The Slopestyle course
offers six features. Starting with a rail another Butter Box offers some
time to slide before a kicker series of four jumps leads straight in the
finish and is located just a little bit above the 2006 Olympic Halfpipe in

Resorts in the north of the country posted the most PowderAlarms on in the past seven days.  San Martino Di Castrozza  saw one
of the bigger falls of 30cm (12 inches) whilst Alagna Valsesia on the west
and Arabba Marmolada  in the Dolomites both lead Italy’s greatest snow deoth
table with 480cm (16 feet) of snow each on upper slopes.


In Spain all of the country’s 20 or so Pyrenean ski resorts have reached
snow depths of more than two metres, as the country’s sensational winter
2008-9 continues in to a third month of regular powder snow. The ongoing
falls are causing a lot of problems at airports and on the roads.  Baqueira
Beret reports the most snow with 275cm (nine feet) on upper slopes although
Sierra Nevada to the south of the country has the greatest snow depth in
Spain with 350cm (12 feet).

Conditions also continue to be superb in neighbouring Andorersa and on the
French side of the mountains.


In Sweden’s country manager Christer Hillörn reports that
there have been no major snowfalls but very cold temperatures as low as -

“The cold weather will continue this week but the heavy snowfall that hit
England is coming in today and a second front on Friday. The biggest
snowfalls are expected in the northern parts of Sweden. So we are looking
forward to a good weekend with powder skiing in the north, but also with
good conditions due to the cold weather at resorts elsewhere in Sweden too.”

It’s very similar over the border in Norway, where 64 ski resorts expect to
receive snow today after a clear, very ciold spell.’s
Snowfinder predicts about 20cm (eight inches) as the maxiumum total snowfall
for the next four days at these resorts.

Eastern Europe

Bulgaria has had some new snow continuing itys rather average season.
Bansko has the best cover with 120cm (Four feet) of snow.

110 resorts are operating in Slovakia and 70 in the Czech Republic with a
maximum snowfall of 20cm (eight inches) n Slovakia in the past week in the
Slovak paradise and Small Fatra resorts.  Discolunts of up to 50% are
offered on some lift tickets.

Other European Countries

Elsewhere in the continent all five ski areas in Scotland remain open with
fresh snow falling currently falling and expecting to continue for the rest
of this week.

In the Netherlands January 2009 is officially the coldest month in 12 year,
according to the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Instute) with the avarage
temperature just 0.7 degrees against the avarage temperature for the month
of 2.8 degrees Celsius.  Unusually the south of the country was colder
rather than the north and received the most snow.

North America

In Utah snow storms this week deposited another 120cm (four feet) at
Snowbird lifting the resort’s January’s total to 2.6m (103 inches) giving a
mid-mountain base of nearly two metres (95 inches).
“This recent parade of storms has made for the best conditions of the season
and prime powder skiing,” said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. “As we head
into the heavy snowfall months of February and March, the mountain is sure
to only get better.”
In Canada Whistler has reported nearly 30cm (a foot) of new snow in the past
48 hours at mid-mountain (1650m) taking snowdepths there to nearly 150cm
(five feet).

On the east Mont Tremblant in Quebec received more than 20cm (eight inches)
of new snow overnight, adding to the 3.3 metres (130) inches since the
opening of the season.

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