Latest snow report
Updated: 2.50pm Thursday 31 December 2015
Welcome to our latest detailed snow report for the Alps and beyond.
As regular followers of weathertoski will no doubt be aware, snow conditions in the Alps have been challenging this New Year week, to say the very least.
You can get away with not very much snow if the weather is sunny and the slopes are empty, and fortunately, the weather in the Alps has remained mostly fine until today. However, there isn’t much that can be done to control the holiday crowds and this has really cranked up the pressure since Christmas, with plenty of worn looking pistes even in the highest of ski resorts.
Lower down, there is very little natural snow in the Alps, with many resorts mostly or even entirely reliant on snow-making. While this situation is clearly far from ideal, it has not always been as bad as it sounds.
There is, for example, a case to be made that the Dolomiti Superski region (which includes the likes of Selva, Corvara and Arabba) has been offering the most enjoyable skiing this week. This is partly because the area has some of the best snow-making in the world, but also because the terrain is very pastoral, and only needs about 20cm of artificial snow in order to operate. It is telling that far fewer people have been reporting rocks and stones here than in the Tarentaise (e.g. La Plagne, Méribel).
On to more positive news and, with a bit of luck, this could be the last really negative snow report for the Alps for some time. The weather is changing and we are expecting significant snow for many (but not all) regions over the next week or so.
The greatest snowfalls will be in the western Alps, where the high French resorts (e.g. Alpe d’Huez, 3 Vallées, Paradiski, L’Espace Killy) will hit the jackpot. These regions could see well over 1m, and perhaps even 1.5m of new snow above 2000m in the next week.
Many other parts of Switzerland and the far west of Austria (e.g. Lech) could also do quite well but, as a rule, the further south-east you are, the less chance you have of seeing significant snow.
Meanwhile, snow conditions in North America remain excellent, at least in the west…
In most low Austrian resorts it’s a case of skiing on ribbons of white among green pastures. This is very much the case in Kitzbühel (10/40cm) and Söll (10/20cm), both of which are almost entirely reliant on artificial snow.
For a slightly more wintry picture you need to head to the higher resorts of western Austria, such as Lech (25/30cm) or Ischgl (0/30cm) but, even here, cover is exceptionally thin and snow-making is instrumental in them keeping open as many runs as they have.
The best snow cover in France is in the higher resorts of the Tarentaise, such as Val d’Isère (29/60cm) and Val Thorens (45/90cm). However, even here, pistes are becoming worn due to the sheer volume of New Year traffic.
Lower down, and in the southern Alps in general, there is very little natural snow, with resorts such as La Clusaz (0/40cm) and Serre Chevalier (0/30cm) only partially open and heavily reliant on snow-making.
The majority of Italian resorts have little or no natural snow cover. However, they also have some of the best snow-making in the world, which has enabled the Dolomiti Superski area to open over 700km on a 20-30cm entirely artificial base.
The most wintry looking slopes in Italy are probably those of Cervinia (5/120cm) but, even here, cover is very thin lower down.
Like everywhere else in the Alps, snow conditions are very poor in Switzerland for late December. The best skiing can be found in the high altitude resorts of the west such as Saas-Fee (10/115cm), Zermatt (0/125cm) and Zinal (10/55cm). However, even here, the cover is very thin or non-existent at low altitude and there is no serious off-piste to speak of.
Lower down generally, snow cover is very patchy in the likes of Villars and Champéry (5/25cm), which are both heavily reliant on snow-making.
Rest of Europe
There is still some half decent piste skiing at altitude in some parts of the Pyrenees but, generally speaking, they are also struggling with only patchy cover lower down. Baqueira Beret has 20/40cm of settled snow, depending on altitude.
Norway’s Hemsedal (57cm mid-mountain) has a dusting of new snow and reports excellent piste skiing for the time of year. Sweden’s Åre (41cm mid-mountain) is also in good shape thanks to recent snow.
Meanwhile, Scottish ski resorts have been unable to open more than one lift so far, at Nevis Range, due to wildly fluctuating temperatures.
Snow conditions remain very good just about everywhere in the western US, even if there hasn’t been a huge amount of new snow in the last week.
One exception is Alaska’s Alyeska which has seen over one metre in the last seven days, and where the mid-mountain base is now 180cm deep.
Further south, Mammoth (California) has 125/216cm of settled snow depending on altitude, while Aspen (Colorado) has 76/122cm.
The weather has calmed down in Whistler after a very snowy December. Most of the powder is now-tracked but on-piste conditions remain excellent, with a mid-mountain base 180cm deep.
Further inland, all resorts are also in good shape, with 232cm of settled snow on the slopes of Big White and 173cm in Revelstoke.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 4 January 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates