Latest snow report
Updated: 9.30pm Monday 22 January 2018
Snow conditions in the Alps are truly exceptional, with record- breaking base depths for January in a number of high resorts in the north and west.
One such resort is France’s La Rosière, which has seen more than 8m of snow this season already (at village level) and has settled snow depths of around 300cm lower down and 400cm up top. A little bit further north, Flaine has an incredible 420cm of settled snow on top of its Grandes Platières mountain while, over in Switzerland, Engelberg eclipses everywhere with a staggering 625cm of snow on its Titlis glacier. In short, you would have to go back to February 1999 (the big avalanche season) to see anything like these sorts of depths across such a wide area.
Although there has been a huge amount of snow in the northern and western Alps in recent days (and weeks), it hasn’t been cold, meaning that there has also been rain in the mix lower down. This has led to huge discrepancies in snow depths at different altitudes within some resorts. For example, Engelberg may have the deepest upper snow pack in the Alps, but at resort level the base is only 5cm deep. It’s a similar story in the Portes du Soleil where there is around 360cm of snow at 2200m but just 5cm at 1000m.
It’s not just the north-western Alps that have seen a lot of snow in recent days. Austria has also seen significant snow, especially in the west (Tirol, Vorarlberg) where there is now 420cm of snow on the upper slopes of St Anton. Two areas that have missed the brunt of the recent storms, however, but which have been offering some fabulous skiing having had no weather-related disruption, are the far south-east (e.g. Dolomites) and the far south-west (e.g. Prato Nevoso).
The weather will (at last) calm down generally in the Alps tomorrow, though more snow is forecast later in the week!
Across the pond, the Pacific north-west (e.g. Whistler) is grabbing the headlines with some bumper snowfalls.
Austria has in recent days seen its fair share of heavy snow, even extreme snow in some western regions such as St Anton (160/420cm) and Obergurgl (140/320cm) where the avalanche danger is sky high.
Even the lowest resorts such as Söll (70/165cm) now have impressive upper depths, though rain has temporarily dampened things down close to resort level from time to time.
The worst of the storm will be over by Tuesday afternoon then all areas can look forward to two or three days of mostly fine and quite mild weather.
Snow depths are unprecedented for January across some of the higher resorts of the northern French Alps, such as Flaine (180/420cm), La Rosière (300/400cm) and Les Arcs (145/400cm).
Lower down, rain was an issue on Monday for the likes of Morzine (5/165cm) and La Clusaz (50/260cm), but here too there is masses of snow at altitude.
After several days of very challenging weather, the situation will start to improve on Tuesday but forget any off-piste for the time-being as the risk of avalanche will remain extreme for some time to come.
Generally speaking, Italian resorts have missed the extreme snowfalls recently seen in the northern half of the Alps. However, Cervinia (290/405cm) is one resort that has again been hit hard. The nearby Monte Rosa region (100/250cm) is also exceptionally snowy for what is usually a relatively dry corner of the Alps.
Further east, snow depths are more modest across most of the Dolomites, but piste skiing in Alta Badia (70/180cm) has been as good as anywhere recently, not least because it has been less affected by the weather.
Switzerland has borne the brunt of the very latest storm, with heavy snow (and some rain) across just about all regions.
As in many other parts of the Alps the storm has caused disruption, most notably in the south-west where, at the time of writing, Zermatt (180/310cm) and Saas-Fee (150/480cm) are again cut off.
The snow has also been heavy further north, with base depths of 170/300cm in Klosters and 20/625cm in Engelberg, though there has also been some rain here at resort level
The worst of the storm will be over by Tuesday morning then all regions can look forward to two or three days of much calmer and quite mild weather.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees haven’t seen much snow in recent days but piste conditions remain good, with 70/90cm of snow depending on altitude in Andorra’s Soldeu and 90/225cm in Spain’s Formigal.
There is some excellent skiing to be had in Scandinavia, especially in Norway where Lillehammer (60/125cm) saw 20cm of new snow over the weekend.
Conditions are more variable in Scotland, not least due to the ever-changing weather, but all the main centres are open and Glencoe reports healthy base depths of 95/130cm.
Most Colorado resorts saw a moderate fall of snow over the weekend which has helped freshen things up after what has been a rather disappointing season to date. Breckenridge (117cm upper base) did better than most with around 40cm of new snow.
Wyoming’s Jackson Hole is still the better bet though, with 15cm of new snow on a 190cm upper base and plenty more to come later this week.
If you really want it deep, however, Washington’s Mt Baker (240/400cm) is where it’s at, with another metre or so forecast over the next few days.
Whistler (285cm upper base) has seen a lot of snow in recent days, with more forecast every day this week. It will turn milder by the weekend though with plenty of rain lower down.
Further inland, any snowfall has been much more modest in the Banff/Lake Louise area (96/152cm). However, the lower temperatures have made for some consistently good skiing conditions, especially on-piste.
Our next full snow report will be on Thursday 25 January 2018, but see Today in the Alps for regular updates