Latest snow report
Updated: 1.45pm Thursday 14 January 2016
What a week of weather in the Alps!
The big story is the amount of snow we have seen at altitude in the north-western Alps - 60-100cm widely above 1800m since the weekend, and 150cm+ in some parts of the Swiss Valais.
It has also been very windy so, needless to say, the avalanche danger is sky high in many parts of the Alps (especially the snowier north-west) and will remain so for some time to come.
Lower down, there was a lot of rain in the western Alps last weekend, which washed away much of the meagre base below 1500m. Fortunately it turned much colder on Monday evening, with snow returning to the valley bottoms by Tuesday.
The southern and eastern Alps have also seen some snow this week, though generally not as much as we have seen in the north-west.
What we can say for sure is that everywhere now looks much more wintry than it did just a couple of weeks back, and it will turn colder still over the weekend.
So, in summary, there is a lot of snow in the north-western half of the Alps, especially at altitude, but the risk of avalanche is high off-piste. Elsewhere, snow cover is still generally below par for January but conditions are improving bit by bit and, on-piste at least, there is some excellent skiing to be found.
The weather will also stay cold for some time to come, with further snow across the northern Alps this weekend.
Snow conditions are improving in Austria even if snow depths are still below average for January across the board.
Glaciers aside, the best conditions are still in the higher resorts of the west, such as Lech (90/100cm) and Obergurgl (25/137cm).
Further east, it’s an improving picture with several smaller top-ups for resorts such as Zell-am-See (20/75cm) and Kitzbühel (12/54cm). Even the south, which was so green in the early part of the winter, now looks white, with 20/45cm of settled snow in Bad Kleinkirchheim (20/45cm).
The whole of the French Alps have seen new snow this week, but the heaviest falls have been at altitude in the north, with well over 1 metre in places.
Val Thorens now has 160/210cm of settled snow depending on altitude, while Serre Chevalier, further south, has a respectable 25/120cm.
The lowest resorts such as Morzine (10/60cm) are still a bit thin, but even here there is new snow at resort level and it’s a rapidly improving picture.
Needless to say, the off-piste is particularly dangerous right now, especially (but not exclusively) at altitude.
As a rule, Italian resorts haven’t seen a huge amount of new snow from the current storm cycle. One exception is the Aosta region in the north-west, where the base is now 110/180cm deep in Courmayeur, and 70/230cm deep in Cervinia.
Further south and east, snowfalls have been lighter and erratic, but there is still plenty of good piste skiing on offer in Sestriere (30/40cm) and Selva (20/30cm).
All Swiss resorts have seen snow this week, the heaviest falls being in the west where some places have seen 150cm or more!
Two examples of resorts that have copious amounts of snow right now are Verbier (35/205cm) and Crans Montana (65/250cm), though the off-piste is clearly still very dangerous.
Other parts of the Swiss Alps may not have seen quite so much snow, but are also offering excellent conditions, weather permitting. In the north, Grindelwald has base depths of 10/105cm, while in the east it’s an improving picture in Klosters, with 25/110cm.
Rest of Europe
All five Scottish ski areas are now open after a disappointing start to the season. Glenshee is skiing as well as any of them with 20/45cm of settled snow depending on altitude. Further west, Glencoe has 20/40cm.
The Pyrenees have seen a little bit of snow this week, but nothing like the Alps. Baqueira Beret in Spain has base depths of 45/85cm, while Soldeu in Andorra has 30/70cm.
Bulgarian resorts haven’t seen much snow recently, but on-piste conditions are holding up fine, with 50/65cm in Bansko.
Most Norwegian resorts have fresh snow with some excellent skiing on offer, both on and off piste in Hemsedal where the mid-mountain base is now 80cm deep. There is also good skiing to be found in Sweden’s premier resort Åre, with 55cm mid-mountain.
Most Colorado resorts had a small top up on 9/10 January, leaving pistes in excellent condition even if the off-piste is mostly tracked. Vail and Breckenridge both have mid-mountain depths of around 1m, but this should increase with snow starting to fall again and forecast to continue over next few days.
It’s also snowing in Utah, with heavy falls forecast in Alta where the mid-mountain depth is currently 140cm.
Over in California, Mammoth (190/292cm) hasn’t seen any snow in the last seven days, but this will change with the arrival of a potent storm early next week, which will deliver serious quantities of powder.
Whistler’s decent season continues, with 25cm of new snow in the last 48 hours and more snow forecast over the weekend. The mid-mountain base is now 164cm deep.
Further inland, Panorama (60/110cm) has only seen a dusting in recent days, though it is cold and on-piste, at least, conditions are excellent.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 18 January 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates