Thursday, February 12, 2009

There’s So Much Snow Everywhere Even Indoor Skiers Move Back Outdoors

Skiinfo reports that recent snow in urban areas has led to ski instructors who work indoors year round in the growing number of indoor snow centres in Europe have been coming outdoors in their lunch hours to check out the natural snowfall in the car park! The enclosed pictured is of a staff member from SNO!zone indoor ski centre at Castleford in North Yorkshire, England, enjoying his lunch breaks doing what he does best - riding!
Back on Europe’s conventional ski slopes, snowfalls have been continuing in France throughout the past week with accumulations of up to 110cm (44 inches) over the past seven days and both the Northern Alps and the Pyrenees doing well. Sunday February 8th was a particularly snowy day across the country with Skiinfo France issuing 30 powder alarms, in particular in Pyrénées and North Alps. Fresh snowfall yesterday (Tuesday February 10) included 15cm (six inches) at Montgenèvre and 10cm (Four inches) at Val Thorens. Val d'Allos 1800 la Foux currently claims the greatest snow depth in France with 360cm (12 feet) of snow lying on upper slopes.
Gilles Gravier manager of the local tourist office there told Skiinfo, "We have not seen a 360cm snow depth since the winter of 1975. On the night of Friday, February 6th alone we received another metre of snow. These very big snowfalls require a lot of work clearing the snow and through January we have spent 120,000 Euros just on snow clearing in the resort. This quantity of snow means the avalanche risk off-piste is very high at level 4 on a scale up to a maximum of 5".
The German speaking parts of the Alps have experienced great snowfalls in recent days with heavy falls in many areas at the weekend and more than 40 powder alarms issued today (Wednesday, February 11th) in Austria and Germany alone.
In Switzerland more than a metre of fresh snow fell in St.Moritz (120cm/four feet) and also in Zermatt (116 cm) and Saas Fee (90cm) in the past week. Zermatt is by far the snowiest place in Europe, the mountain top lies buried under more than seven metres (23 feet) of snow. Andermatt has reached the four metre (13 feet) mark. As a result the risk of avalanches is high and The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos says the danger for the whole Swiss Alps area is considerable (3) and that avalanches can be unleashed by just one person. They expect more snow in the north and west of the country tomorrow (Thursday 12 February).
In Austria many leading resorts got fresh snow over the past seven days and 11 resorts now have snow bases of two and a half metres (eight feet) or more on top now. Sölden has received 39cm (16 inches) in the past seven days with Seefeld adding 22cm (nine inches) and Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn 20 cm (eight inches).
In Germany there are a dozen resorts that have had 30cm (12 inches) or more of fresh snow in the past week and many more with 10-20cm (4-8 inches) more. Nebelhorn got 30cm (112 inches) and Kleinwalsertal – Fellhorn 20 cm (eight inches). The Zuspitzplatt ayt Garmisch has the most snow in the country with 230cm (nearly eight feet).
In Italy it has been the north of the country that has received the most snow this week with San Martino Di Castrozza reporting another 60cm (two feet of snow) and Courmayeur 20cm (eight inches). Several resorts have now moved above a total maximum snow depth of five metres (Nearly 17 feet) with Colere the first to claim six metres (20 feet) of snow on upper slopes. The Presena glacier above Passo Tonale is close with 550cm (over 18 feet). All the snow means the avalanche danger remains high in many parts of the country with the avalanche danger typically at level 3 on a scale of five. Two climbers died this week in an avalanche at Cogne in the Aosta Valley where five and a half metres of snow has fallen this season so far.
Scotland currently has some of the best conditions for years thanks to snow falls of up to 24 inches (60cm) of snow. Almost all lifts and runs are operational at the country’s five ski areas and at the weekend two of the ski areas had to turn-away skiers arriving at mid-morning as they reached operational capacity. There were about 12,000 people skiing each day.
After the snow temperatures dropped very low, down to a low point of -18 Celcius on Monday at Aviemore which has meant the snow has been maintained And in a light, powdery condition that is very rare on the Scottish mountains, more used to a heavier, wetter snow. Thus the resorts are describing the snow as "Alpine".
Elsewhere in Europe Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain and is now reporting more than four metres (over 13 feet) on their upper slopes. But also all Pyrenean ski resorts in France, Spain and Andorra have reached snow depths of more than two metres. Formigal has depths of up to 2.5 metres (over eight feet) and a minimum of a metre in the valley. The snow has been falling heavily since the weekend, with a whole metre falling in just 24 hours. Reports claim that it is the heaviest snowfall the area has received in 15 years (picture attached). Yolanda Julian, commercial manager at Formigal told Skiinfo, "The quality of the snow is exceptional both on and off-piste. It’s just fantastic! All the lifts are open to allow clients to enjoy Formigal’s 137km of slopes".
In Scandinavia the skiing remains good in Norway and Sweden. "This past weekend have been truly amazing with snow, snow and more snow", said Christer, Skiinfo Sweden manager. "The remarkable thing is that it has been really cold too, between - 12 and -20C, and still snowing. Now we are talking light powder - I got 40cm on my car that I had to wipe off before I went skiing on Saturday, and then got some really nice turns". 12 Swedish resorts have reported 20cm (eight inches) or more snow in the last seven days with Vemdalen in the lead with 44cm (18 inches). The upcoming week there is a "winter vacation" in Norway, and the ski resorts are doing their best to keep as many slopes as possible open, and to give the best possible ski conditions. The forecast is mostly sunny with not much new snow, but there is lot of snow right now, and it is steadily cold in most of the ski resorts. Some snow is expected in the western part of Norway, but not more than approximately 10-20cm (4-8 inches) in the next four days.
There’s been little new snow in Eastern Europe where skies have been clear and sunny. Some resorts such as Pamporovo in Bulgaria, badly need some fresh and snow is expected in the next few days. Bansko still has the most with a little over a metre of coverage.
In North America cover remains good on the east Coast with fresh powder on the west coast providing a much needed top up of increasingly scant cocverage at some areas there. In The Rockies its a mixed picture with Colorado resorts receiving a few inches of new snow, again very welcome after limited fresh snow in recent weeks. Similarly in Alberta to the north there’s been new snow at Banff.