Latest snow report
Updated: 6.30pm Monday 13 November 2017
Welcome to our first snow report of the 2017-18 ski season!
Snow conditions in the Alps are encouraging for the middle of November with good cover right across the board, at altitude at least.
The key now though is what happens next? After all, we have been here before, with early excitement about soon followed by high temperatures and prolonged drought!
But there are a few reasons to be more optimistic than this time last year…
Firstly, this November the snow is more widespread across the Alps than in it was in early/mid November 2016, when there was good snow cover across the north-western Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil) but relatively little or even nothing across much of the southern and some eastern parts of the Alps. This year we have significant snow cover above 2000m across virtually the entire Alps and in many cases at much lower levels too.
Secondly, last year’s drought - when it hardly snowed at all across great swathes of the Alps between mid-November and early January - was so extreme, that it is statistically highly improbable that we will see anything even close to that again.
And, last but not least, we are already looking at another cool down this weekend (after a milder spell this week) with the chance of further snow in places.
Admittedly there is a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen after that but, as we have already alluded to, a lengthy spell of warm weather still seems unlikely at this time.
In conclusion, there is already enough snow in the Alps to at least guarantee a decent start to the season in many high resorts (and some lower ones), but lower down (more generally) there is still plenty to play for, as you would expect at this time of year.
Austria has the greatest number of skiing options open right now, most of which still involve glaciers but more non-glacial openings are likely over the next couple of weeks.
Sölden (37/187cm mid/upper mountain) has around 40km of runs open, while Hintertux (105cm upper) has 45km of available pistes. Both resorts currently offer skiing to below glacier level.
Obergurgl (45/150cm) has masses of snow and will become the first major entirely non-glacial resort to open this Thursday. Ischgl (50cm upper slopes) will follow suit on 23 November.
Tignes is the only option open for skiing in France right now. The glacier was closed due to high winds today but will offer fabulous snow conditions once the weather calms down. On-piste (bashed) snow depths are around 50cm deep, but high winds mean that the off-piste has been badly scoured and is highly discouraged.
Italy hasn’t seen quite as much snow from this latest storm as further north, but still has half a dozen or so limited options available.
In Cervinia (110cm upper slopes) skiing is still confined to the glacier but you can also ski in a number of non-glacial resorts including Sulden am Ortler (40-80cm) in the Sudtirol, and Artesina (60/108cm) in the southern Piedmont.
All parts of the Swiss Alps have seen significant snow in recent days with several partial openings to choose from.
Among the higher profile offerings are Verbier (38cm upper slopes) and Zermatt (10/60cm), but you can also ski in Davos (25/70cm) and Engelberg (20/200cm), the latter having one of the most impressive snow depths in the Alps right now.
A number of US resorts are already partially open, though with artificial help to varying degrees. In Montana, Big Sky has a 50cm upper base, while Colorado’s Loveland has 45cm.
Most western US resorts will see some snow this week but, generally speaking, in modest quantities.
Several Canadian ski resorts are now up and running thanks to good early season snowfall. Sunshine Village near Banff has settled snow depths of 56cm on its upper slopes, while Marmot Basin has 50cm.
Whistler, where there is also plenty of snow, will open on 23 November and has more heavy snow in the forecast.
Our next full snow report will be on Thursday 16 November 2017 but see Today in the Alps for daily updates