Latest snow report
Updated: 12.45pm Thursday 26 November 2015
It has been a very snowy few days across the northern half of the Alps. However, many southern Alpine resorts (which includes most of Italy) have missed out.
The heaviest of the recent snowfalls have been in the northern French Alps (e.g. Val d’Isère, La Plagne, Val Thorens, Chamonix, Avoriaz), the northern and western Swiss Alps (e.g. Verbier, Gstaad, Wengen, Engelberg), and the far western Austrian Alps (e.g. Lech, Warth-Schröcken).
The southern French Alps (e.g. Serre Chevalier), the south-eastern Swiss Alps (e.g. St Moritz), the southern Austrian Alps (e.g. Nassfeld), and most of the Italian Alps have only seen negligible snowfall (in some cases none at all). The exception in Italy being the far north-west, where some snow has spilled over the border into the likes of Cervinia, Courmayeur and La Thuile.
Further snow is forecast across the northern (and especially north-eastern Alps) today, Thursday, then again over the weekend. Next week, however, looks like it will turn more settled and much milder.
Elsewhere, the Pyrenees have also seen significant snowfall in recent days and, across the pond, most western US and Canadian resorts continue to enjoy decent early conditions.
Austria has had mixed fortunes with regards to the recent storms. The west has seen quite a lot of snow, especially the Vorarlberg (e.g. Lech), though they are not due to open until 4 December.
Further east, snowfalls have generally been more modest, and some parts of the south (Carinthia, Osttirol) have seen little if any meaningful new snow in the last few days.
Like everywhere else, though, it has been cold, which has allowed the snow cannons to operate - some consolation for those resorts that have missed the heaviest of the snow.
Until now, the glacier resorts (e.g. Hintertux, Stubai, Kaprun, Sölden) were offering the greatest extent of skiing, but they have just been eclipsed by Ischgl (5/30cm), which opened today with an impressive 81km of pistes, despite the modest snow depths.
The northern French Alps (roughly from Alpe d’Huez northwards) have seen lots of new snow in recent days and are in excellent shape for late November. South of here, snow depths steadily become less impressive, with virtually no snow at all in the extreme south (Isola 2000).
Several ski resorts are now partially open, thanks to the new snow, including Val Thorens (75/100cm), although its official opening is actually this weekend.
Val d’Isère (40/100cm) will also open this weekend, joining Tignes (already open) which has just announced that you can now ski all the back to resort on the famous Double M run.
Chamonix and Alpe d’Huez are just two of several other resorts planning a partial opening this weekend, thanks to the recent snowfalls.
In contrast to the northern Alps, most Italian resorts have seen little if any meaningful snow over the last few days. The main exception has been in the far north-west (Aosta Valley) where Cervinia (20/145cm) has seen about 30-40cm of new snow from recent storms (albeit very windblown), and will offer at least 35km of pistes (shared with Zermatt) once the weather settles down.
Courmayeur and La Thuile (not yet open) are two other resorts that have seen significant snow, but many Italian resorts (e.g. the Dolomites) are relying on their impressive artificial snow-making capabilities to start laying a base. This operation may run into difficulties next week with warmer weather forecast.
The northern and western Swiss Alps currently have lots of fresh snow, while the south-east (e.g. St Moritz) has much less. Engelberg has seen a whopping 60cm at altitude in the last 24 hours alone and should offer fabulous powder conditions (weather permitting) when it reopens on Saturday.
Verbier (30/70cm) and Andermatt (20/70cm) are two other resorts that are about to open (Friday 27 November), joining Zermatt (10/150cm) and Saas-Fee (10/140cm) which, thanks to their glaciers, continue to offer the greatest on-piste options.
Rest of Europe
Many resorts in the Pyrenees also have significant snow which has allowed a whole clutch of resorts to open - or consider opening this weekend. These include Spain’s Baqueira Beret, which has seen at least 70cm of new snow and will begin its season on Saturday 28 November. Over the border, Cauterets is one of several French resorts that will join them.
Norway also has a number of partially open resorts (Geilo, for instance) even if, for now, snow depths remain modest (20/30cm). It’s a similar picture in Finland, with a handful of runs open in the likes of Ruka (35/45cm).
More and more western US resorts are at least partially open thanks to multiple November snowfalls. It should be pointed out, however, that contrary to some media reports, this does not (in most cases) constitute an unusually snowy start to the season.
In Colorado, there are some excellent conditions reported in Winter Park (61cm upper base), where 12 trails are now open. More remote Wolf Creek still leads the way (in Colorado at least) with all 77cm trails open on an impressive 95cm upper base.
Over in California, Mammoth (57/107cm) is also having a decent early season with 69 trails now available, though Snowbird (Utah) is still behind the curve by its own super-snowy standards, with just 45cm of settled snow up top and nine trails open.
Generally speaking, the resorts of western Canada are in good shape for late November. Whistler has seen plenty of snow this month and currently offers 15 trails on an 82cm upper base.
For the greatest extent of pistes though, you need to head further east to Lake Louise, where they have 76 trails open on a mid-mountain base approaching 1m.
Next full snow report will be on Thursday 3 December 2015, but see Today in the Alps for regular updates