Latest snow report
Updated: 11am Friday 21 December 2018
Snow conditions in the Alps have been pretty good this week. However, things are about to get a bit more complicated with the arrival of a warm front today. Not only will it introduce milder air across the Alps, but it will also bring some rain, especially to the north-western Alps where the rain/snow limit will exceed 2000m in places.
By the north-western Alps we are roughly talking about resorts north-west of a line drawn between Grenoble and the Austrian Arlberg, including the 3 Valleys, the Grand Massif, Chamonix, the Portes du Soleil, Verbier, Villars, Wengen, Engelberg, Lech and Anton. These are just a few of the areas at risk of rain at some point over the next 24 hours before the heaviest precipitation transfers further east towards Austria later in the weekend.
Over the next few days the rain/snow limit will fluctuate but could reach as high as 2300m for a time in the northern French and north-western Swiss Alps (e.g. Portes du Soleil) where there will be a significant loss of snow depth below 1500m. Needless to say, lots of rain lower down also means lots of snow higher up, so resorts in the north-western Alps with plenty of terrain above 2200m (e.g. Verbier, Mürren, Engelberg) will see significant snow on the upper half of their ski areas.
Generally speaking, the further south you are over the next few days, the lighter and patchier any precipitation will be, with some areas (such as the Dolomites) likely to stay completely dry.
In short, the lower ski resorts of the northern and western Alps are going to suffer a bit over the next days. For the very best snow conditions you need to aim high, where there will be fresh snow, or south, which will avoid most of the rain.
Across the pond, snow conditions are looking excellent across most western Canadian and US resorts…
Snow conditions have been pretty good this week in Austria, but watch out for some milder wetter weather over the weekend.
This will lead to a deterioration in snow quality across the lower ski resorts of the northern and western Austrian Alps, such as Söll (55/65cm) and Saalbach (40/50cm), both of which will see some rain at times, especially later on Sunday.
For the best snow conditions next week, you need a ski resort with plenty of terrain above 2000m such as Ischgl (50/120cm) and Obergurgl (58/210cm).
Snow conditions have generally been excellent this week in the French Alps, but the arrival of a warm front today will complicate things in the north, where snow is forecast at altitude but the rain/snow limit could creep above 2000m in resorts such as La Clusaz (5/190cm) and Avoriaz (50/125cm) tonight.
For the best snow conditions next week you therefore either need to aim high or much further south. For example, in Val Thorens (120/150cm) any precipitation should fall as snow, while the southerly resort of Isola 2000 (70/80cm) will completely avoid any rain or snow over the coming days.
There has been plenty of good skiing on offer across Italy this week. It will turn milder over the weekend but there will generally be less of a threat of rain in Italian ski resorts than on the northern/north-western side of the Alps.
One exception is the north-western Aosta Valley where resorts such as Courmayeur (20/80cm) may be wet for a time this weekend, at least on the lower half of the mountain.
Further south, however, Sestriere (30/60cm) should stay dry, as will ski resorts further east in the Dolomites, such as Arabba (25/110cm).
Like everywhere else in the Alps, there has been some fantastic skiing on offer this week in Switzerland.
However, the arrival of the warm front today will complicate matters over the next couple of days, especially in the lower resorts of the northern and western Swiss Alps such as Villars (30/60cm) and Wengen (30/55cm) where rain is in the forecast.
The best snow conditions next week are therefore likely to be in the higher ski resorts of the southern Swiss Alps, such as Zermatt (15/220cm), Saas-Fee 15/300cm) and St Moritz (40/120cm).
Rest of Europe
Snow conditions in the Pyrenees are on the poor side thanks to a generally very mild late autumn and early winter. There is still plenty of piste skiing on offer, especially at altitude, but base depths are very modest and there is no snow in the medium term forecast. Andorra’s Soldeu has 0/45cm depending on altitude, while Spain’s Baqueira Beret has 25/55cm.
There is plenty of skiing on offer across Scandinavia right now, with 14cm of fresh snow in Norway’s Hemsedal where the upper base depth is now 85cm. Further north, Sweden’s Åre has a more modest 30cm, but some snow is forecast here early next week.
Skiing in Scotland remains confined to a couple of patches for beginners in the Lecht and Glencoe.
Snow conditions across the western US generally remain good.
In Colorado, Breckenridge (140cm upper base) is skiing as well as anywhere right now with 30cm of new snow in the last 24 hours.
In Utah, Snowbird (114cm upper base) is also in decent shape with snow forecast to fall both today and early next week.
Whistler has seen a huge amount of snow falling in recent days - 175cm in the last seven days, to be precise. What’s more, further snow is forecast over the weekend which means that conditions are looking excellent here in the run up to Christmas.
Further east, snow conditions in the Banff/Lake Louise area (89/120cm) are also very good right now, with around 40cm of new snow in the last week, 10cm of which has fallen in the last 24 hours.
Next full snow report will be on Monday 24 December 2018,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates