Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunny Spring Skiing On Huge Snowbase To Last Longer As Resorts Extend Season

Skiinfo reports that although the snow falls are decreasing and in most cases temperatures are rising as Spring nears, there have still been significant snowfalls in many ski areas over the past seven days. These continue to top up huge bases which will allow many ski areas to remain open in to May, should they wish. Last Thursday and especially on Friday there were still big snowfalls in Austria with up to 70cm (28 inches) at the Tauplitzalm on Friday contributing to a total of 115cm – nearly four feet - in 7 days. The Austrian snowfalls continued on Saturday with a couple of Powderalarms issued by Skiinfo at the SkiWelt which received 50cm (20 inches) in 48 hours since. Most other resorts got around 30cm (a foot) on Friday already and another 20cm (eight inches) on Saturday taking upper slopes depths of 240cm (eight feet). Snow depth on the Kaprun and Dachstein glaciers remain above four metres (14 feet) which bodes well for summer skiing this year.
German resorts also had up to 40cm of snow last Friday at Jenner by Berchtesgaden. Oberstdorf now has snow cover of up to three metres (10 feet), one of the deepest in the country.
In France there were snowfalls last Wednesday (11th March) with 30-40cm (12 – 16 inches) of snow at many resorts in the northern Alps including Chamonix, La Plagne and Val d’Isere. The French winter to date has been reported to be 1.2 degrees colder than usual and one of the three coldest of the past 20 years.
In Switzerland Disentis got 40cm (16 inches) of snow on Thursday and there were some smaller snowfalls on Friday. Andermatt is reporting the deepest snow in the country with a 460cm (Over 15 feet) base with Zermatt on 397cm (just over 13 feet), Engelberg on 385cm (just under 13 feet) and Saas Fee 353cm (just under 14 feet).
Italy has had a mostly sunny week with Courmayeur receiving the most snow – another 30cm (foot). Sella Nevea in the North East of the country has the most snow with 640cm (21 feet) on upper slopes . The warm weather is reported to have increased the avalanche risk.
Spain has also had sunny days and spring skiing conditions in Spain over the past week. Sierra Nevada will offer half price ski tickets after the Easter holidays and have announced that the season will last for an extra fortnight to at least mid-May because of all the snow. The resort, Europe’s most southerly, currently has five metres (17 feet) of snow on its slopes and 100km (63 miles) of piste open. Other Spanish ski resorts are almost as well endowed and have between 170cm (six feet) and 260cm (12 feet) of snow.
In Andorra on the French Pyrenees there have been similar dry sunny conditions with skiers enjoying the deep snow bases across the southern European mountain range. Cauterets in the French Pyrenees has the greatest snow depth in France with 480cm (16 feet) on upper slopes.
In Scandinavia it has also been one of the most peaceful weeks of the winter with mostly clear skies, although Klppen resort got 17cm (seven inches) of new snow over the past week. The Swedish weather service has published a map showing that more than half of Sweden still has snow coverage of at least 50-75 cm (20 – 33 inches), one of the best levels of snow cover at this time of the season for many years.
In Scotland conditions are the worst they’ve been for several months with Glenshee and The Lecht closed due to lack of snow cover and limited terrain open on the tops at the other three centres – Cairngorm, Nevis Range and Glencoe. Current warm weather won’t help matters.
In Eastern Europe snow conditions are holding up with cooler weather on this side of the continent. Bulgaria’s three major resorts have had small snowfalls over the past week and expect up to 15cm (six inches) more by the weekend. Bansko has the most snow accumulated with 240cm (8 feet) on upper slopes. At Borovets its 210cm (7 feet) and in Pamporovo 90cm (three feet). In the Czech and Slovak republics there has been heavy snow in high altitude ski resorts so very good conditions are projected for the coming weekend with 90 ski resorts open in Slovakia and 65 in the Czech Republic. The deepest snow, 180cm (six feet) is to be found at Chopok South in Slovakia and Praden Ovčárna in the Czech Republic.
In North America, Canada’s Alberta and British Columbia are reporting some of the greatest snow accumulations of the past week. With resorts like Sunshine and Whistler open in to May this is good news for superb Spring skiing conditions. Whistler reported 77cm (over 2.5 feet) of fresh snow at mid-mountain level over the past seven days including 18cm (seven inches) in the past 24 hours. In the US there’s been more fresh snow in the West with Telluride in Colorado announcing plans to extend its season by a week. The Canyons in Utah reported 15inches (37cm) of new snow falling to create great powder conditions. In New England more Springlike conditions with warmer temperatures have been reported.
In Asia, a spokesman for Niseko ski resort in Japan told Skiinfo, "We have experienced some beautiful sunny weather and mild temperatures along with the occasional winter storm so far this March. Temperatures are on the rise a little now with most days seeing the mercury rise above freezing level but with the snow base holding strong at 3.9 metres (13 feet), we can expect some great Spring skiing conditions".
Following the announcement of fresh snow at Mt Hotham in Australia last week, New Zealand’s Ruapehu (picture attached) reported fresh snow last week. Although the southern hemisphere ski season is more than two months off, the mountain was blanketed in a cover of fresh white snow. There would be as much as 10cm’s on the upper slopes. "March has definitely seen much cooler temperatures after what has been a really good warm summer", said Mike Smith of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts.