Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Snow in Europe and North America

Skiinfo reports that North America – west of the Rockies, has finally received huge snowfalls in the past few days after a largely warm and dry January, dramatically improving conditions. In Europe the Pyrenees continue to enjoy fresh powder almost daily and in the north of the continent Scotland has its best conditions so far this winter with virtually all runs open, and Sweden has also received a big powder boost.
In Austria the biggest falls of the past few days have been at Nassfeld which had a
1 metre (3.3 feet) of snow a week ago on January 21st and another 20cm (eight inches) of fresh snow so far today (January 28th). Over the past week Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis has had 50cm (20 inches), Seefeld 47cm (19 inches) and Axamer - Lizum above Innsbruck 35cm (14 inches). The Mölltaler Glacier has the greatest snow depth in the country with 320cm (Just under 11 feet) on upper slopes.
Germany, to the north, has seen falls of up to 27cm (11 inches) in total in the past week with the greatest snow depth at the top of the Zugspitz glacier, with two metres (nearly seven feet).
In Switzerland the famous St Moritz Cartier Polo World Cup starts on the frozen lake of St. Moritz tomorrow (January 29th) through to Sunday (February 1st) – 20,000 people are expected to attend. Zermatt continues to lead the country for snowfall with 44cm (18 inches) more snow and the greatest snow depth in Europe, possibly the world, with 679cm (33 feet) on the glacier.
Northern Italy continues to receive regular snowfalls and Skiinfo issued six powder alarms for the country in the past 24 hours. The biggest falls were at Cortina d'Ampezzo with 80cm (nearly three feet), and Limone Piemonte with 50 cm (20 inches). Arabba Marmolada still has the most snow in the country with 480cm (16 feet) on upper slopes. Alagna Valsesia in the Monterosa Ski region and Passo Tonale are only a few inches behind.
In France the excitement is mounting ahead of the start of the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Val d’Isere next week, but after good falls of snow in the French Alps last week, the snow gods have shifted their attention back to this season’s favourite region, the Pyrenees, in recent days with 13 powder alarms in the French Pyrenees yesterday (Tuesday, January 27th) alone. Cauterets received a huge 145cm (nearly five feet) of fresh snow in the past week and Piau Engaly has some of the most snow in the country with a 320cm (Nearly 11 foot) base. "The snow depth and quality is excellent, but the risk of avalanche is high, and we are strongly advising our customers to stay on the marked pistes", said Vincent Doutres, lift company manager at Cauteret-Lys.
Elsewhere in the Pyrenees another 50cm (20 inches) of snow fell across Andorra’s mountains on Monday continuing the superb season there, "We have a lot of snow this winter , it’s fantastic and I hope skiers will continue to come until the first of May", Ski Andorra’s Marta Rotes told Skiinfo.
Skiing in Spain also continues to be excellent across the country with the largest fresh accumulations at Baqueira Beret (95cm/over three feet). Most resorts have upper slope base depths of over two metres (nearly seven feet) with Sierra Nevada in the south boasting the post with a 350cm (nearly 12 feet) base. Formigal, which has one of Europe’s most expensive lift tickets, is offering free tickets to UK citizens for the rest of the winter.
In Scandinavia, after periods of warm weather and limited snowfall, Sweden has finally been hit by major winter storms which have left huge amounts of snow over the past few days across almost all of the country. The ski resort of Kungsberget received the most snow with 61 cm (just over two feet) falling through the last seven days. As a result they have just fully opened what they claim to be Sweden’s best snow park. "After months of preparations and snowmaking, and recently long days and nights creating each feature, we are happy to finally open our great new snow park", said a happy shaper in Kungsfjället.
In Eastern Europe it continues to be a mixed picture with warm temperatures causing problems last weekend for Czech and Slovak resorts, although more than 200 are open across the two countries. They are trying to attract the lucrative Polish school holiday market but are also being hampered by a strong Euro, which Slovakia newly joined earlier this month, compared to the Polish Zloty. Many deals are on offer as a result, including 50% of lift tickets at some resorts, and the good news is that cold temperatures have arrived with snow forecast over the next few days. Conditions are better in Bulgaria where resorts received 20cm (eight inches) of fresh snow at the weekend, further improving conditions there.
Scotland has its best conditions of the season snow far with heavy snowfall, particularly on the West Coast, bringing snow several feet deep. Glencoe, which opened a week ago, is offering runs up to 5km (over three miles) long, the other four centres are mostly fully open.
In Western North America the roller coaster season continues to swing between the dry warm weather that dominated before Christmas and mid-January and has now returned to the heavy snowfall of late December.
In California Mammoth mountain reported five feet (1.5m) of snow accumulating over four days at the start of this week whilst whistler to the north, although yet to fully open its 8,000+ acres of terrain, the most in North America, is getting close and has now got 7,000 acres open.
In Colorado Steamboat (see attached picture) reports that it is "drowning in powder". Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation said, "Steamboat has some of the best snow in the Rocky Mountains, the largest mid-mountain base of the major Colorado destination resorts, and a summit base that’s spilling over the 80-inch mark".