Latest snow report
Updated: 8.30pm Monday 16 March 2017
The weather in the Alps has been decidedly spring-like this week which means that snow conditions are very mixed, with freeze-thaw conditions being the order of the day, especially lower down.
Some new snow is expected at altitude this weekend, mostly across the Swiss and Austrian Alps. However, it won’t be particularly cold, which means that rain will also be in the mix lower down. The rain/snow limit will start at close to 2000m, but later on Saturday will fall to around 1300-1600m in the north-western Alps, and to 1000-1500m in the north-eastern Alps (i.e. Austria). It will become rather soggy lower down.
The heaviest precipitation will be on Saturday, from the central Swiss Alps (e.g. Mürren/Engelberg) eastwards into Austria (away from the far south). These regions will see between 10cm and 40cm of new snow above 1800m, locally a little bit more (e.g. at altitude in the Arlberg).
By contrast, the extreme western Swiss Alps, as well as the northern French Alps (e.g. Chamonix), will see no more than a dusting at altitude. Many southern parts of the Alps (i.e. most of Italy) will miss out on the precipitation altogether.
Snow conditions in Austria have been become increasingly spring-like this week, although it has been fractionally cooler than in the western Alps.
Resorts with plenty of north-facing terrain above 2000m can still offer firm snow for much of the day. Obergurgl now has settled snow depths of 45/165cm, while Zürs has 80/170cm. However, lower resorts such as Söll (55/65cm) and Saalbach (30/70cm) are seeing a more pronounced free-thaw cycle.
Snow is forecast on Saturday but it will only be significant above about 1500m.
Snow conditions in the French Alps are mixed right now, with free-thaw conditions in full swing, especially lower down and in areas exposed to the sun.
The snow is naturally remaining firmest for longest in resorts with plenty of high, north-facing terrain, such as Tignes (110/230cm) and Arc 2000 (75/230cm). Lower down, however, the daily variation in snow quality is more acute in the likes of Megève (45/160cm) and La Clusaz (15/155cm).
Some northern French resorts may see a dusting of snow at altitude over the weekend, but it won’t be significant.
Spring is well and truly in control across the Italian Alps. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Dolomites where there is virtually no natural snow at lower altitudes. That said, you can still find some decent piste skiing in the likes of Selva (20/45cm) and Cortina (15/50cm), thanks to the extensive artificial bases laid down earlier in the season.
The best snow conditions are, however, at altitude in the western Italian Alps where base depths are now 70/170cm (depending on altitude) in Cervinia and 50/220cm in La Thuile.
Just as everywhere else in the Alps, spring snow conditions have dominated Swiss ski resorts in recent days, especially at lower altitude.
You can still find some very enjoyable skiing in the likes of Wengen (10/100cm) and Les Diablerets (40/150cm), but timing is key as the snow softens up fast on slopes exposed to the sun.
For a little more consistent snow quality, it pays to be in a resort with plenty of north-facing terrain above 2200m, such as Zermatt (5/170cm) or Saas-Fee (30/225cm).
Snow is expected in many Swiss resorts this weekend, especially in the north and east, but only in significant quantities above about 1600-1800m.
Rest of Europe
Snow cover is still good in the higher Pyrenean resorts, with 100/160cm in Andorra’s Pas de la Casa, for example, though snow quality is a little mixed due to the mild temperatures.
Most Norwegian ski resorts have seen new snow in the last few days, heaviest in the west where base depths in Voss are a respectable 65/105cm.
Scottish skiing is on hold again, however, with mild weather and only very patchy snow cover.
It has also been mild in the western US which means that snow quality is also quite spring-like in many resorts.
Snow cover remains healthy, however, with upper base depths of 620cm in California’s Squaw Valley, 318cm in Utah’s Snowbird and 384cm in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole.
The weather is unsettled in Whistler (298cm upper base) right now, with further snow due over the next few days, though also some rain at lower altitudes.
Further inland, Banff also has fresh snow and base depths of 150/227cm depending on altitude.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 20 March 2017,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates