Latest snow report
Updated: 1.40pm Thursday 25 February 2016
In theory, snow conditions remain pretty good across most of the Alps, although there are exception, especially at low altitude. In practice though, it has been quite a difficult week for most skiers due to the changeable weather and (for most) a distinct lack of sunshine.
Snow depths are close to or a little above average at altitude in the north-western half of the Alps (e.g. Mürren, Crans Montana, Verbier, Avoriaz, Chamonix, Val d’Isère). However, below 1500m, cover remains thin, and even very thin in the likes of Morzine and Megève, which have seen too much rain this season, and have had difficulty riding out the numerous mild spells.
Away from the north-west, snow depths are generally below average, but the difference between high and low altitude is somewhat less pronounced.
One thing is for sure, snow conditions have been much more variable in the Alps since half term (which was generally excellent), with fluctuating temperatures and a mixture of rain, wind and snow. We have seen the back of the excessively high temperatures that blighted many parts of the Alps on Sunday and Monday, but it still isn’t notably cold, which continues to frustrate the lowest resorts (such as Morzine).
There is more snow in the forecast though - initially falling across the northern Alps today, before all eyes turn towards the south, where big snowfalls are expected this weekend.
Across the pond, there hasn’t been a huge amount of snow to report, with the most consistent snow conditions at altitude in Colorado and Utah…
Snow conditions in Austria are generally good at altitude, but more variable low down due to fluctuating temperatures and, in places, thin cover. Bad Gastein, for example, claims 20/130cm of settled snow depending on altitude, but is actually quite green at valley level.
For the best snow conditions you need a resort with plenty of skiing above 2000m, such as Lech (120/205cm), Obergurgl (35/190cm) or Ischgl (30/90cm) - Ischgl being a classic example of how you should never judge a resort by its figures. Snow depths here are often quite modest, but snow preservation and quality is normally excellent.
The forecast for this weekend is very mixed, with heavy snow in the south (Osttirol, Carinthia) on Sunday, but Foehn conditions in the north, which will further erode any low-lying snow. Early next week it should turn colder again everywhere.
At altitude, the northern French resorts have some of the deepest snow in the Alps right now. Flaine currently has 115/300cm, for example, while Les Arcs has 130/300cm, with further snow falling today (especially in the Haute-Savoie).
Below 1500m, however, the snow pack has been thin all season, with resorts such as Morzine continuing to struggle lower down. The resort may claim 30/90cm depending on altitude, but the reality is that there is next to no snow at resort level, unusual for late February.
Snow depths are also below par in the southern French Alps, where Risoul has 70/90 cm, but in most cases there is still plenty of decent skiing, at least on-piste.
The forecast for the weekend is complicated, with heavy snow in the southern Alps perhaps spilling over the Italian border into some northern parts on Sunday (e.g. Val d’Isère). However, for many northern Alpine ski resorts (e.g. Portes du Soleil) there will be an Foehn episode that will cause snow conditions to deteriorate further at low altitude before it turns much colder again early next week.
There is plenty of good skiing still on offer in the Italian Alps even if snow depths remain below average in most regions, and most of the skiing is on piste.
The one area that does have a lot of snow is the north-western Aosta valley, where Courmayeur has 95/210cm and La Thuile has 70/290cm.
Further east, there is less snow. Livigno currently has 43/93cm, while Selva has 35/75cm.
The weather is set to get very interesting this weekend, with heavy snow in many Italian ski resorts, especially on Sunday.
Swiss ski resorts have some of the best snow in the Alps right now but, like everywhere else, mild weather has created some issues lower down.
Generally speaking, the best snow conditions in Switzerland are at altitude in the north and west, with some Swiss resorts having some of the deepest snow in Europe. Engelberg, for example, currently has 30/350cm depending on altitude, while Mürren has 77/305cm.
The thinnest cover is in the far south-east, where snow depths are 43/86cm in St Moritz, and more generally at low altitude, with just 17/85cm in Adelboden, for example. However, both these resorts still offer plenty of good skiing, especially on-piste.
The forecast for this weekend is mixed with heavy snow in the far south, especially on Sunday, but Foehn conditions elsewhere in Switzerland, which means further snow loss low down.
Later on Sunday, and particularly early next week, it should turn more wintry across the board.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees haven’t seen a huge amount of snow during the last week, but conditions are holding up well at altitude, with 90/130cm in Arcalis (Andorra) and 90/175cm in Baqueira Beret (Spain), with lots of snow forecast this weekend.
Meanwhile, the drought continues in Bulgaria, where Bansko (65/100cm) hasn’t seen any snow since the middle of January.
There is better news in Norway, especially in the west, where Voss (95/240cm) has seen nearly 1m of snow in the last week alone.
Scottish ski resorts also have plenty of snow, by their standards, with current depths of 50/100cm at Nevis Range, depending on altitude.
There is plenty of good skiing to be found in Colorado, even if the off-piste has been variable during the recent mild weather. Vail saw a dusting of new snow on Tuesday, and has a 142cm mid-mountain base. Telluride (also 142cm mid-mountain) saw 13cm of fresh on the same day.
Snow conditions are broadly similar in Utah, even if snow depths are more impressive. Snowbird currently has 216cm mid-mountain.
Over in California, snow depths are 266/419cm in Mammoth, but the very mild weather here means that snow conditions are much more spring-like.
It’s still mild in Whistler (249cm mid-mountain) which means variable snow conditions, despite good cover. Cooler, snowier weather is expected over the weekend, especially on Sunday.
Further east, Banff/Lake Louise (140cm upper mountain) hasn’t seen any snow this week, but still offers excellent piste skiing, with a dusting of snow expected over the weekend.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 29 February 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates