Latest snow report
Updated: 1.45pm Thursday 21 January 2016
Snow conditions are excellent across many (but not all) parts of the Alps right now. It is turning milder, however, which will complicate matters somewhat over the weekend and into next week.
The best snow conditions this week have been in the north-eastern Swiss, and northern and western Austrian Alps (e.g. Engelberg, Braunwald, Lech, Warth-Schröcken, Fieberbrunn) where between 50cm and 100cm of new snow fell last weekend. With the frigid temperatures, this snow was also “light” and “dry” in consistency, not something we have seen much of this season.
Snow conditions are also excellent across most other northern and western parts of the Alps, but the south has again seen very little snow. Here, most resorts (e.g. the Dolomite region) are still heavily reliant on artificial snow, with little or no off-piste to speak of.
The weather in the Alps will turn significantly milder over the weekend, with some snow in places (heaviest in the eastern Alps) but also the risk of a little rain low down. Next week, it should settle down again but stay mild, with cold clear nights and mild sunny days, which will start a freeze-thaw cycle on some lower south-facing slopes.
Meanwhile, many North American resorts have seen new snow, with lots of fabulous skiing on offer...
Right now, the northern Austrian resorts still offer some of the best snow conditions in the Alps, thanks to last weekend’s big snowfalls. St Anton has base depths of 75/165cm, while Fieberbrunn has 50/145cm.
As a rule, the snow becomes thinner the further south you go, but the recent cold weather has enabled Bad Kleinkirchheim (20/45cm) to also offer some enjoyable skiing, so long as you are happy sticking to the pistes.
It will turn milder in Austria over the weekend with some further snow in places, but also the risk of rain at low altitude.
Snow conditions are good to excellent across most of the French Alps, especially in the north where the deepest snow is to be found. Val d’Isère now has settled snow depths of 102/183cm, while Avoriaz has 105/155cm. Only below 1500m is the cover still a bit thin but, for now, even Morzine looks thoroughly wintry, with 30/90cm of settled snow depending on altitude.
Further south, snow depths are generally more modest, but the likes of Risoul (60/70cm) are still offering excellent piste skiing.
It will turn milder over the next few days with a few showers possible over the weekend.
Only the far north-west of Italy has what you might call normal snow levels for January, with 110/180cm of settled snow in Courmayeur, and 65/180cm in Cervinia.
Further south and east, cover is still very thin, which means that most if not all the action here is on-piste. Selva (20/30cm) and Sestriere (30/40cm), for example, are still heavily reliant on the artificial bases laid down earlier in the season.
It will continue to turn milder over the next few days, but Italian resorts will again see very little precipitation.
There is some excellent skiing on offer right across Switzerland at the moment, with the best conditions in the north and west. Skiing as well as anywhere are Engelberg, where base depths are 80/310cm, and Crans Montana with 60/250cm.
Only the far south-east is still struggling a bit, but if you are happy to stay on-piste then St Moritz (35/45cm) is still in reasonable shape, thanks to the recent cold weather.
The temperature will continue to increase over the weekend, although there will be some snow in places, heaviest in the east. However, there is also the risk of a little rain at low altitude.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees have seen some new snow since we last reported, heaviest in Baqueira Beret (Spain) where settled snow depths are now a respectable 80/135cm. Snowfalls have been more modest in Andorra, but there is still some decent piste skiing on offer in Soldeu (30/70cm).
Conditions in Bulgaria are quite good, with Bansko (65/100cm) leading the way, with more snow forecast this weekend.
Norwegian resorts haven’t seen a huge amount of snow in the last week, but on-piste conditions remain excellent in Hemsedal (82cm mid-mountain), as they also are further north in Finland’s Levi (60cm mid-mountain).
Some of the best snow conditions in the US right now are in Utah, where Snowbird has seen plenty of snow in the last week and mid-mountain snow depths are over 2m.
Colorado resorts are also skiing superbly, with fresh snow in Vail, where the mid-mountain base is now 135cm deep.
Over in California, temperatures have been fluctuating with some rain at lower elevations, but a powerful “cold storm” is expected to improve conditions right across the region over the weekend. Currently Mammoth has an impressive 190/292cm of snow depending on altitude.
Whistler has seen a further 20cm of new snow in the last 48 hours, with more in the forecast, but only at higher elevations as the milder air turns it to rain lower down. Right now the mid-mountain snow-pack is just over 2m deep.
Further east, the Banff/Lake Louise area (88/105cm) has seen very little snow in the last week, but has excellent top to bottom snow cover and, on-piste at least, is still skiing superbly.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 25 January 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates