Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Snow Just Keeps Falling

Skiinfo reports that heavy snow is falling, yet again, across large parts of the Alps, with the company issuing more than 100 deep snow powderalarms yesterday, many of them for Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Snow depths have continued to build with Ehrwald in Austria reporting 125cm (four feet) of fresh snow in the past seven days and Meiringen in Switzerland 75cm (2.5 feet). Still more snowfall is expected for the rest of the week, especially tomorrow (Thursday 26 March) in Austria. Several ski areas in the the region are now reporting accumulated snow depths in excess of five metres (17 feet) on upper slopes with the Dachsein Gletscher at 490cm (over 16 feet) and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun at 455cm.
There has been a foot (30cm) of fresh snow in leading resorts in the northern French Alps yesterday. Chamonix and neighbouring Argentiere as was resorts around Flaine in the Grand Massif were beneficiaries. Chamonix now has some of the deepest snow in the French Alps with a 330cm (11 foot) base on upper slopes. Caroline Stauder of Les Carroz d'Araches told Skiinfo France, "The season has been very good. Since the early opening of the ski domain over the weekend of December 13th and 14th we have benefited from exceptional snow coverage. In the middle of March we still had 110cm (nearly four feet) of snow in the resort. The snow coverage is also of remarkably high quality. It was cold in February and in March the temperatures remained cold for the time of year. With this currently snow quality, the Spring sunshine and the uncrowded slopes make now a great time to ski. But with the recent big snowfalls the avalanche risk has now past in 3 out of a maximum 5, so be careful".
Italy has had a largely dry week with sunny days and proing like conditions although there were some snow showers in the north and centre of the country last weekend. The biggest snow falls of the past week have touched 50cm (20 inches) with Campo Felice near Rome accumulating 35cm (14 inches) and Limone Piemonte in the Alps 20cm (eight inches).
Sella Nevea still has the most snow in the country and possibly Europe with 640cm (over 21 feet) . The Presena glacier, which will remain open through May and in to June has 530cm (over 17 feet).
The Pyrenees have had dry sunny weather for the past week but that’s due to end this weekend with fresh snowfalls and wintry temperatures forecast. In the French Pyrenees Gourette and Cauterets have the most snow in France with over 450cm (15 feet) each. Snow depths for Andorran and Spanish resorts remain between 150 and 250cm (five and eight feet).
Formigal is at the upper end with 250cm (over eight feet) of snow on upper slopes. Throughout Easter Week, eggs will be hidden around the resort, both on the slopes and in the village. Find one with a face on it and you win a week’s Holiday to Formigal for the 09-10 season. Sierra Nevada still has the most snow in Spain with a 4m (13 foot) base, but Baqueira Beret isn’t far behind with 350cm (just under 12 feet)
In Eastern Europe Bulgaria received more snow with Bansko in Bulgaria now building up top touch four metres (13 feet) – it’s deepest snow yet this season , in contrast to resorts in the alps and Pyrenees where the peak appear to have past . More snow is falling this week.
In Scandinavia there have been occasional snowfalls over the past week, some of them heavy. At the weekend there were big snowfalls and hard winds in the northern Swedish mountains making conditions extremely hazardous. In Abisko they closed the whole ski system for half a day following six spontaneous avalanches during the night. There were no injuries and conditions have not stabalised. In the last seven days Ramundberget in Sweden got 21cm (eight inches) of new snow, Vemdalen 15cm (six inches) and Åre 10cm (Four inches). The most snow is in Storlien at the moment with 130cm (over four feet). The weather forecast shows more snow in the southern part of the mountains later in the week and during the weekend.
It has been a roller-coaster weather week in Scotland’s mountains with double-figure temperatures (the warmest in the UK) dramatically cutting remaining snowpack at the end of last week, followed by stormy weather which did bring some fresh snow. Currently three centres – Cairngorm, Nevis Range and Glencoe are open for the Scottish schools Easter holiday skiing, which begins this weekend. Each has limited terrain available at present which may not be suitable for beginners or young children unless conditions improve.
Things are looking better for the ski hills in the southern Belgian region of the Ardennes. There were major traffic delays in the south of the country this morning caused by recent snow falls. On the E42 motorway Between Verviers and Prüm 30 trucks blocked the road for several hours. Now the people of Belgium and Holland are wondering if there’ll be a repeat of last year’s White Easter in the Benelux countries?
In North America the best of the fresh snow has been in the west of the continent with resorts in Alberta and British Columbia, reporting plenty of fresh, plus low temperatures to keep it in good condition. The opposite effect – warm weather, had been plaguing some Western US resorts last week but Colorado has benefitted from heavy snow in the past few days which follows on from a three foot (90cm) fall over Lake Tahoe last weekend. Copper Mountain (picture attached) reported having received 16 inches (40cm) of new snow in the past two days. Eleven inches (25cm) have fallen in the past 24 hours and the best part is. More is expected all week.
Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is the latest ski resort to announce an extended ski season, through to May 17th. The resort has also announced that the US Ski Team will be back to train at the mountain and that the resort’s terrain park and slopestyle will be expanded to create a spring super park.