Latest snow report
Updated: 6.20pm Thursday 4 January 2018
The weather and snow situation in the Alps is very chaotic right now. The worst of the current storm will be over by tonight but it will take some time for resort authorities to properly assess the situation, let alone get everything up and running again, particularly in the western Alps.
Further snow is due at the weekend, mostly in the southern Alps, but it will also spill over the border regions to reach some more northerly resorts, such as Val d’Isère – again!
Over the last couple of days most of the Alps have seen a lot of snow and a lot of wind. Some areas have also seen a lot of rain. Generally speaking, the heaviest precipitation has been in the western Alps – i.e. the French Alps (away from the extreme south), much of Switzerland, some western parts of Austria and the north-west of Italy.
In the past 48 hours, the very heaviest snow has fallen in the French Alps, with between 1.5m and 2m in places above 2300m (e.g. Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Rosière, Chamonix). More generally, the northern and western Alps have seen between 70cm and 120cm of new snow above 2300m. It has also snowed lower down (in fact much lower last night and at times today in the eastern Alps) but we have quoted snowfall figures at 2300m as this was roughly the upper limit of the rain during the storm – i.e. the altitude above which just about 100% of the precipitation fell as snow.
During the same period, it has rained a lot across the northern and western Alps, especially lower down but occasionally (as today) as high as 2300m. While this may sound like very bad news, it might not be quite as disastrous as it sounds, for two reasons. The first being that the snow was already deep. So while lower areas will have lost a few centimetres, or even a few tens of centimetres, the base will survive. Secondly, rain can actually be good for snow-pack stability in the longer term, especially once it turns colder again, which it should do (gradually) next week.
Across the pond, the best snow is still in western Canada…
The western Alps may have grabbed most of the headlines in recent days but Austria has also seen significant snowfall, especially in the west (e.g. Vorarlberg, western Tirol) where 50-80cm (even up to 1m in places) has fallen above 2000m in the last 48 hours.
St Anton now has an incredible 95/335cm of settled snow depending on altitude though some rain has also fallen lower down. Further east, Saalbach is also a bit damp today but will have no problems going forward thanks to a healthy base of 70/125cm.
The weekend should be mostly dry and mild with just a few showers in the far south (e.g. Nassfeld) on Sunday.
Most of the French Alps have seen incredible quantities of snow in the last few days, with as much as 2m in places above 2300m. But there has also been lots of rain low down, which means that snow quality will be a bit mixed once things settle down again tomorrow.
Val Thorens now has impressive base depths of 240/300cm, but don’t even think of going off-piste for the time being. Lower down, Megève has 90/190cm depending on altitude but the snow is heavier here after today’s heavy rain.
The forecast for the weekend is mixed with further snow in places, especially in the south but also spilling over the border further north at times (e.g. into Val d’Isère).
The recent snowfall has been a bit more hit and miss across the Italian Alps but some resorts have still seen big dumps. La Thuile (110/210cm) and Cervinia (100/220cm), for instance, both have masses of new snow and will be offering fantastic skiing once the weather settles down.
Further east, snow depths remain more modest in the Dolomites but there has also been some recent fresh snow and on-piste snow conditions remain good. Selva now has settled snow depths of 20/120cm, while Cortina has 160/110cm.
Snow is forecast across the western Italian Alps this weekend, especially on Sunday when there could be a major dump in the likes of Sestriere, Cervinia and the Monte Rosa region.
Just about all parts of the Swiss Alps have seen serious snowfall in recent days, especially at altitude. However, rain has also been a problem lower down. Verbier (80/200cm) and Engelberg (30/480cm) are both classic examples of resorts that have seen lots of both recently.
By contrast, just about all the precipitation has been snow in St Moritz (75/130cm), thanks to its position deep in the south-eastern Swiss Alps where the warming influence of the Atlantic is reduced.
There will be lots of dry and quite mild weather in the Swiss Alps this weekend but snow is likely in the far south and south-west (e.g. Zermatt), especially on Sunday.
Rest of Europe
The Pyrenees have seen a little snow in recent days but generally not as much as in the Alps. It has also been mild which means that the best snow conditions are at altitude. Andorra’s Pas de La Casa now has base depths of 75/90cm while Spain’s Formigal has 60/160cm.
Snow conditions in Scandinavia are generally good, particularly so in Norway where Geilo boasts healthy depths of 60/150cm depending on altitude.
Scottish ski resorts are also back in business with fresh snow in all resorts, allowing at least some partial openings. Cairngorm has base depths of 15/30cm while Glencoe has 40/50cm.
Snow conditions in Colorado are still well below par for the time of year with just 53cm of mostly artificial snow on the slopes of Vail. Utah is similarly drought-stricken so far this season, with an unusually paltry 94cm (much of it artificial) up top in Alta.
Further north, Wyoming’s Jackson Hole hasn’t seen much snow recently either but base depths are a much healthier 99/115cm here thanks to the storms earlier in the season.
Whistler has seen 44cm of new snow up top since we last reported. There is also more in the forecast but, with temperatures all over the place, there will also be some rain lower down. The upper mountain base is currently 179cm deep - still pretty good for early January.
Further inland, colder weather means more consistent snow conditions in Banff where the upper base is now 122cm deep
Our next full snow report will be on Monday 8 January 2018, but see Today in the Alps for regular updates