Latest snow report
Updated: 9.15pm Monday 28 December 2015
Snow conditions remain extremely poor across the Alps. However, change is afoot, with falling temperatures and a little snow in places as early as this Thursday and Friday. We will probably have to wait until next week though before we see a serious return to winter, something we will expand on in tomorrow’s snow forecast.
Back to the present and the extra volume of skiers this week has really increased the pressure across the Alps. This has been most acutely felt in the low resorts of the north-western Alps (e.g. Morzine, Megève), where snow-making has been most problematic and only a handful of runs have been open.
Snow-making has been more successful in the low resorts of the southern and eastern Alps (e.g. Dolomites, Ski Welt), partly due to better facilities, partly due to a more favourable climate - the south-eastern Alps are less humid than the north-western Alps, and snow-making is more efficient in drier air.
The best natural snow cover remains in the high resorts of the western Alps such as Val Thorens, Val d’Isère, Verbier and Zermatt. However, even here, it is very thin for late December, there is no serious off-piste to speak of and you can’t escape the New Year crowds.
Across the pond, conditions couldn't be more different...
The best snow conditions in Austria are on the glaciers, such as Hintertux (25/220cm) and Stubai (15/100cm). Lower down, there is very little natural snow, with resorts such as Kitzbühel (5/40cm) and Söll (5/25cm) almost entirely reliant on snow-making.
The best entirely non-glacial skiing right now is to be found in the higher resorts of the west, such as Ischgl (0/30cm) and Lech (30/35cm) but, even here, the cover is exceptionally thin for late December.
In theory, the high resorts of the Tarentaise such as La Plagne (5/80cm), Tignes (29/60cm) and Val Thorens (45/90cm) have the best snow conditions in the Alps right now. However, even here, the cover is very thin and the sheer volume of the New Year crowds means that stones and rocks are becoming an issue in places.
Lower down, and in the southern French Alps more generally, the situation is even worse, with only a handful of runs open in Les Gets (10/25cm) and Isola 2000 (5/30cm), where there is no natural snow at all.
The Dolomites may have no natural snow at all but in some ways this is the best place to be skiing right now, due to the pastoral (grassy) nature of the terrain. This, along with state-of-the-art snow-making, has allowed the Dolomiti Superski area to open over 700km of runs on a base just 20-30cm deep, with very few reports of any stones/rocks.
The most natural snow is in Italy’s highest ski area, Cervinia (5/120cm) but, even here, cover is very thin lower down and there is no off-piste to speak of.
The best snow conditions in Switzerland are in the higher western resorts, such as Zermatt (0/125cm), Saas-Fee (10/120cm) and the Val d’Anniviers (10/55cm).
Lower down, snow cover is very patchy, though resorts such as Grindelwald (5/25cm) still have a reasonable selection of runs open, thanks to artificial help.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees have also been seen very little snow in recent weeks. That said, there is still some reasonable skiing to be found at altitude, including in Spain’s Baqueira Beret (25/65cm) and Andorra’s Pas de La Casa (20/50cm).
In Norway, Geilo (60/70cm) and Hemsedal (45cm mid-mountain) are both in good nick. Further north, Finland’s Levi has a respectable 60cm packed down mid-mountain.
Snow conditions remain excellent across the western US.
Californian resorts probably have the most reason to celebrate after their recent run of dismal winters. All 150 trails are now open in Mammoth, where the upper base is now 216cm deep.
Colorado resorts are also in excellent shape, with over 1m of new snow in Telluride (140cm mid-mountain) in the last week alone.
Snow conditions in Canada remain excellent.
All 200 trails are now open in Whistler, where the mid-mountain base is now 182cm deep. There has been a dusting of fresh snow in recent days but the weather should now settle down for a few days.
Further inland, Fernie is also in excellent shape, with 71/200cm of settled snow depending on altitude.
Next full snow report will be on Thursday 31 December 2015, but see Today in the Alps for regular updates