Latest snow report
Updated: 7.30pm Monday 25 January 2016
Another week, and it’s an altogether different weather and snow scenario for the Alps, in a season of constant twists and turns.
We have now well and truly lost the cold wintry weather that gripped much of Europe in the middle of January, and now have to contend with an exceptionally mild westerly airflow that will last all week.
The southern Alps can expect plenty of sunshine over the next few days. Whereas, cloud cover will be more variable in the northern Alps, with some sunshine at times but also the risk of a few showers, although without any precipitation of real note.
There will be plenty of good skiing on offer in the Alps, especially on-piste and at altitude. Where this mild weather will be mostly keenly felt is lower down and off-piste, where snow conditions will be much more variable, especially on slopes most exposed the sun.
In short, we have early “spring conditions” developing, though fortunately the sun is not yet high enough in the sky for slush to become an issue in quite the same way as it can be later in the season.
The best of the fresh is in the western US right now, especially in Utah…
It has warmed up considerably in Austria over the last few days, which means much more variable snow conditions than we saw last week (which was the best of the season so far).
The higher resorts of the northern and western Austrian Alps, such as Zürs (110/135cm) are still in excellent shape.
Lower down, there is also plenty of good skiing to be had in the likes of Söll (55/75cm) and Kitzbühel (59/75cm), especially if you stay on-piste. Off-piste, however, some early spring-like (freeze-thaw) conditions will develop this week, especially on slopes exposed to the sun.
This week has begun very mild in the French Alps with freezing levels above 3000m. This won’t worry higher resorts such as Tignes (100/180cm) or Les Arcs (100/185cm) too much right now, but snow conditions will become more variable lower down in the likes of La Clusaz (55/210cm) and Châtel (80/170cm), especially off-piste where a freeze/thaw cycle is underway.
In general, the southern French Alps have less snow than in the north, which may be of concern to resorts there later in the season if it stays dry and mild for some time. Isola 2000, in the far south, currently has just 45cm of settled snow on its pistes, much of it artificial.
Snow depths remain very modest in most Italian resorts. The one exception is in the far north-west, where Courmayeur (110/180cm) and Cervinia (65/180cm), which still have close to “normal” levels of snow. Just about everywhere else, however, is way below par.
There is still some perfectly enjoyable piste skiing in both Sestriere (30/40cm) and Livigno (28/39cm), but it has turned much milder this week and more snow is needed to alleviate concerns later in the season.
Like everywhere else in the Alps, the weather has warmed up considerably in Switzerland.
Generally speaking, snow cover remains pretty good, especially in in the north and west where Engelberg has an impressive 80/310cm depending on altitude, and Mürren has 55/155cm. By contrast, snow cover remains thin in the far south east, with just 35/45cm in St Moritz.
That said, there is generally still lots of good skiing to be had in Swiss resorts, except for the somewhat spring-like conditions, especially lower down and on south-facing slopes.
Rest of Europe
On-piste conditions remain reasonable in the Pyrenees, but snow depths are on the thin side for January and off-piste opportunities are somewhat limited. Andorra’s Soldeu has 40/70cm of snow right now, while Spain’s La Molina has 20/40cm.
Bulgarian resorts haven’t seen any snow in the last week, but Bansko (65/100cm) is holding up fine.
There hasn’t been much new snow in Norway either, but here too, on-piste conditions are reported to be very good with around 85cm mid-mountain in Hemsedal.
The news is not so good in Scotland, however, where the exceptionally mild weather has put snow-sports on hold until winter makes a re-appearance.
Most western US resorts are in excellent nick right now. Utah is doing as well as anywhere, with lots of new snow in Alta (223cm mid-mountain base) and another big storm anticipated later this week.
There has also been snow in Mammoth (California), where base depths now exceed 3m at altitude. Mid-mountain snow cover is less spectacular in Vail (130cm) though, but they are also reporting excellent conditions both on and off-piste.
The eastern Canadian Rockies haven’t seen a huge amount of snow since New Year, but conditions are still good in the Banff/Lake Louise area, with 50/80cm of snow packed down on their pistes.
Further west, Whistler (202cm mid-mountain base) has more snow, but milder weather will make conditions more variable this week with some snow at altitude but also some rain lower down.
Next full snow report will be on Thursday 28 January 2016,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates