Latest snow report
Updated: 1.15pm Thursday 10 December 2015
The northern Alps saw a little new snow yesterday, but not enough to change the overall picture, and the southern Alps once again missed out completely.
Snow conditions in the Alps are less than ideal for the middle of December, with below average snow depths everywhere, and very little natural snow at all in the south. That said, there is still plenty of fun to be had on-piste, especially in the higher resorts of the northern and western Alps, such as Val d’Isère, Tignes, Val Thorens and Zermatt.
Elsewhere, there are lots more partial openings, but in the southern Alps many resorts are relying entirely on artificial snow. Even in the north, at low altitude, you can also see green fields with just thin strips of white, especially in Austria.
Needless to say, you can forget any serious off-piste for the time-being.
Across the pond the news is much better, with plenty of snow in most western American resorts and lots more in the forecast.
Glaciers aside, the best skiing in Austria is still to be found in the resorts with plenty of slopes above 2300m, though even here snow depths are very modest and there is no off-piste to speak of.
Ischgl has just 5/30cm of settled snow depending on altitude, while Obergurgl has 0/55cm.
There is a superficial cover of new snow in some northern resorts this morning but, generally speaking, the lower valleys are very green (or will soon be again), and most resorts are heavily reliant on artificial snow.
Only a handful of northern French resorts saw any new snow from yesterday’s front. There was 5cm in Avoriaz, for example, where base depths are 20/40cm depending on altitude and there is a decent variety of pistes on offer.
Dozens of other resorts are partially open across the French Alps, but the greatest extent and variety of runs are still to be found in Val d’Isère/Tignes (30/80cm) and Val Thorens (50/90cm).
As with elsewhere in the Alps, however, don’t expect any off-piste to speak of.
Italian resorts have very little natural snow at the moment. The most (though still way below average for mid-December) is in the far north-west, where Cervinia has 5/120cm of settled snow depending on altitude, and a reasonable number of open runs shared with Zermatt in Switzerland.
Most other Italian resorts are heavily, or even completely, reliant on artificial snow, including Selva (0/30cm) and Madesimo (0/20cm).
A little snow fell across the northern Swiss Alps yesterday which has temporarily freshened up the pistes in the likes of Engelberg (35/155cm) and Klosters (0/36cm).
Dozens of resorts are now partially open across Switzerland, despite the modest snow cover. However, the greatest variety and extent of skiing remains in Zermatt (4/125cm), with 122km of runs available, including the links to Cervinia in Italy.
Rest of Europe
There is some decent piste skiing available in Andorra, despite a run of sunny and mild weather. All resorts are open with 20/50cm of snow in Pas de La Casa, depending on altitude. The best snow conditions in the Pyrenees though are in Spain’s Baqueira Beret (40/80cm), where 28 or 35 lifts are currently open.
Good skiing can also be found in Norway, with respectable base depths of 70cm at altitude in Geilo and 45cm in Hemsedal. Further north, there is a little fresh snow in Finland’s Levi (30/50cm), where 11 of the 27 lifts are now open.
Snow conditions are generally much better in the western US than they are in the Alps right now.
Mammoth (California) has 122cm up top, but is expecting a lot more snow in the next few days and should be skiing superbly once the current storm cycle comes to an end.
Over in Colorado, Breckenridge will also improve on its 61cm upper base with the snow expected on Friday and Saturday, and then again early next week.
If there is one state that has lagged behind by its own snowy standards so far, it is Utah, but lots of snow is also expected here this weekend.
Overall, western Canada has even better snow conditions than the western US.
Whistler (143cm upper base) has seen over 1m of new snow at altitude in the last week, with more expected this weekend. It will also turn colder next week.
Excellent conditions are also reported further east, with fresh snow in the Banff/Lake Louise area, where the upper base depth is now over 1m.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 14 December 2015, but see Today in the Alps for regular updates