Latest snow report
Updated: 9.45pm Thursday 7 January 2016
Snow conditions in the Alps are highly variable right now. In the west, we saw a lot of wind and snow on Thursday, but also some rain lower down. Further south and east, there has (with the odd exception) been very little new snow - a bit of a recurring theme this season.
The weather will stay mild but quite variable over the next few days, with some further rain/snow in places, but also some brighter interludes, with Friday perhaps offering the best chance of any sunshine. The weather in the Alps looks particularly interesting later this weekend and into next week, with widespread heavy snow and increasingly cold temperatures.
So while the longer term prospects look very promising for the Alps, weather and snow conditions will be highly changeable for the foreseeable future, which won’t be to everyone’s liking, especially fair-weather skiers.
The risk of avalanche off-piste remains high, especially in the north-western Alps, and will probably reach critical levels next week.
The Arlberg region has seen the most new snow in Austria in recent days. There is reasonable cover at all levels in Lech (60/75cm), even if this is still considerably below average for early January.
Further east, decent piste skiing is possible in low-lying Söll (10/35cm) and Kitzbühel (5/40cm), but more snow is urgently needed here to kick start the season properly.
Most French ski resorts (away from the far south) saw a lot of snow on Thursday, even if it did turn to rain above 1500-1800m later in the day.
With the weather expected to stay mild over the next couple of days, the going is likely to be heavy in lower resorts such as Megève (25/60cm), but expect lots of powder higher up in resorts such as Val Thorens (95/135cm). Note, however, that the off-piste is extremely dangerous right now.
Resorts in the far north-west of Italy have again seen some significant snow from recent storms, including Cervinia (40/150cm) which, weather permitting is skiing as well as anywhere in Italy right now.
Further east, many resorts are still heavily reliant on their artificial bases, even if is looking a little more wintry than it was before the New Year. Madesimo and Selva both have 20/40cm of settled snow depending on altitude.
The north and west of Switzerland saw some significant snowfall today, though it did turn to rain lower down later.
Verbier (30/100cm) and Crans Montana (30/150cm), in western Switzerland, are skiing as well as anywhere right now, with lots of powder at altitude, though avalanche danger remains high off-piste.
Snow depths are generally less impressive the further south-east you go, with St Moritz (10/25cm), for example, still heavily reliant on artificial snow.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees have seen some new snow this week, heaviest on the French side of the chain, with 40cm in Cauterets where the upper base is now 85cm deep.
Snowfall has been more modest in Andorra, where there is 20/50cm of settled snow in Pas de La Casa, depending on altitude - enough for some reasonable piste skiing, but still below what you would expect for early January.
Bulgarian resorts have also had a little snow in recent days. Bansko, for example, saw 30cm on its upper slopes on Monday, and has a base now 65cm deep.
Meanwhile, most Scandinavian resorts are having a typically steady, if not spectacular, early season. There is good piste skiing in Norway’s Geilo, where the upper base is 70cm deep, as well as in Sweden’s Åre, where the upper base is 40cm deep.
Mammoth (163/241cm) has seen plenty of new snow in the last couple of days, with more in the forecast on Friday and Saturday.
By contrast, most Colorado resorts have seen very little snow recently. As it stands, Vail and Breckenridge both have 91cm packed down mid-mountain, but the weather does seem to be turning, with some light snowfalls expected over the next few days, turning heavier next week.
It’s a similar story in Wyoming, where Jackson Hole (107/150cm) is experiencing light snowfalls that should continue on and off over the weekend.
Whistler has seen a little top-up this week, but nothing like the storms that hammered the area back in December. The off-piste is now mostly tracked out, but on-piste conditions remain excellent, with a 170cm mid-mountain base.
Further east, the Banff/Lake Louise area has been dry for over a week, but is also in good shape with 75/104cm depending on altitude, thanks to abundant early snowfall.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 11 January 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates