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The Return Of The Big Snowfalls

March 1st, 2010

It has snowed a lot on all the French mountains in the past week, but it is the Southern Alps that have benefited most from the new snow. 85cm (almost three feet) of snow fell, for example. in Puy Saint Vincent last week. Serre Chevalier received 71cm (2.4 feet) and Isola 2000 70cm.

Olivier Saez chief operator of Puy Saint Vincent said, “The snow conditions are very good as we have had regular snowfalls since the end of December. The snow depth is 230cm on the upper slopes and 165cm on lower slopes. The 85 cm of fresh snow in the past week feel at a regular rate so were able to maintain the slopes without operating difficulties. The ski area is perfectly secure and the PIDA (Plan of Intervention Trigger Avalanche) is working. Avalanches are triggered using a CATEX – a cable which has explosives attached to trigger avalanches in zones where snow has accumulated. There is no risk to skiers who stay on the ski slopes, but we strongly advise against going off-piste because we have an avalanche risk of 4 /5.”

Chamonix Mont-Blanc currently has the deepest snow in France with 405cm (13.5 feet). Other resorts including alpe d’huez and Flaine have more than 2.5m (8.3 feet).

Italy has also seen some big snowfalls in the past week with powder alarms issued for 24 hour falls as big as 50cm (20 inches), Courmayeur, La Thuile and Val Gardena issued alarms for 20cm.

Limone Piemonte has received the most snow in Italy over the past 7 days with 110cm (nearly four feet) but Aprica and Arabba have both had a metre too. Arabba also has the country’s second deepest snow depth with 3.8m (13 feet) on the Marmolada glacier. The most is on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale with 420cm (14 feet). Bormio has three metres (ten feet) of snow on upper slopes – the most of an Italian resort without a glacier.

Though snowfalls have been more moderate than a week ago in the German speaking ski areas of Europe, many important resorts in Austria have received respectable amounts of new snow in the past week days.

Sölden got 33cm (11 inches), Axamer – Lizum above Innsbruck as well as Nassfeld and the Stubai valley had 30cm (a foot) each. Similar snowfalls took place in Montafon and Kleinwalsertal. Many more resorts like Ischgl, Söll or the glaciers of Pitztal and Hintertux received at least 10-15cm (4-6 inches) of powder.

A dozen Austrian resorts including Sölden and St. Anton now have snow depths of around two metres (nearly 7 feet) or more on upper slopes. The Mölltal glacier stays on top of the list with up to 350cm(nearly 12 feet).

In Switzerland, Engadin – St. Moritz has accumulated 40cm (16 inches) of new snow over the past seven days and now reports two metres of snow on top of the mountain. Saas Fee and Klosters both also reported snowfalls of 23cm (9 inches) in seven days, Andermatt and Engelberg received 20cm (8 inches). As in Austria the avalanche danger has lowered a little in Switzerland and is generally at the mid-range level of 2-3.

In Germany the ski resorts of Oberstdorf received the most fresh snow issuing powder alarms because of 20-25 cm snowfalls on Saturday. Lots of other resorts in the central uplands as well as in the Alps reported at least some new snow.

Up in Scandinavia the last week has brought some serious amounts of snow in the southern parts of Sweden. Snowfalls up to 60cm (two feet) have been reported in some places. This has caused serious problems on roads and for the railways. The Swedish weather service have reported snowfall records for several cities and regions in the south of Sweden, some of which hadn’t been broken for over 30 years. For example the small ski resort of Mullsjö has a snow depth of 92cm (3.1 feet).

However most ski areas in Sweden are located further north where it hasn’t been snowing that much. In the north the small village of Gielas has had the coldest temperature of the winter with – 40.8C. For the north the most snow in the last seven days has been reported for Ski Sunne with 25cm (10 inches) followed by Kläppen with 24cm (10 inches) and Ramundberget with 15cm (six inches) which still has the biggest snow depth in Sweden, along with Vemdalen, both reporting 120cm (four feet).

There’s been some good snowfalls in Norway too, the coastal resort of Voss posted a powder alarm with 25cm (10 inches) of new snow on Wednesday.

Scotland’s remarkable ski season continues with more heavy snow this week, underling that for Cairngorm Mountain at least, this is probably the most consistant as well as deepest snowfall winters for three decades.

The resort plans to celebrate by setting a world record for the most people skiing in kilts on the weekend of 6/7 March, with a line of kilted 500 skiers and boarders descend the main run at once the aim.

In Spain Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain with five metres (nearly 17 feet) on their upper slopes and is now opening a total of 101 kilometres of pistes. But also all Pyrenean ski resorts have reached snow depths close or over two metres (nearly seven feet).

Weather conditions have dramatically increased the avalanche risk in all Spanish ski resorts making off piste skiing especially dangerous. Top Spanish ski resorts have reported powder snow. Formigal has up to 240cm (8 feet) of snow and 136 km open, with Boi Taull on three metres (10 feet).

In Andorra it has been warmer and there’s no new snow but conditions are still reported to be reasonably good thanks to the snow base of more than a metre.

On the French side of the Pyrenees Cauterets has the deepest snow with 290cm (nearly 10 feet).

In Eastern Europe it has been warmer in the past week with little new snow reported anywhere. Conditions are reported to be holding up at most major centres, but colder weather and fresh snow is needed.

Resorts across the US have been firing off powder alarms over the past 48 hours. Killington reported 28cm (11 inches) of new snow and neighbouring Vermont resort Mount Snow, 32 cm (13 inches). On the other side of the country Homewood in California received 20cm (8 inches) of fresh powder yesterday while nearby Alpine Meadows had 33cm (13 inches) taking its base depth to 338cm (11feet).

Colorado’s resorts have also been receiving a lot of fresh snow. None more so than Silverton Mountain with 120cm (48 inches) during a weekend storm. It snowed three inches (7.5cm) an hour much of the weekend which left some extremely deep powder snow skiing.

Mt Washington in British Columbia has the deepest snow on the continent with 4.9m (16.3 feet).

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