Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s snowing all over the world

Skiinfo reports that although the number of ski areas around the world still open for skiing and boarding continues to diminish, heavy snow is still falling in the Alps and the Rockies, even though May is just days away. In the southern hemisphere Australian resorts have reported big pre-season snowfalls.
Despite the late date in the season, Skiinfo powder alarms were in double figures this week with many of the resorts that are still open in the Alps reporting falls of 30-60cm (12-24 inches).
France got the best of the snow yesterday with Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens, Argentiere and Chamonix all reporting heavy new snowfalls on Tuesday (28 April), La Grave had 20cm (eight inches) of new snow on Sunday (26 April). Marinoël Turc, manager of the Val Thorens Tourist office reviewed the snow coverage of 2008-9 for Skiinfo.fr: "Skiers were able to take complete advantage of good conditions from the very beginning of the season", he said, "because the snow was here from the middle of November, in quantity and in quality. Today still, we have winter conditions and enjoy the powder. At this end of season, the contrast is even more beautiful between Spring in the valley and the still very present snow covererage in Val Thorens".
It was Italy that issued powder alarms on Monday (27 April) with Cortina announcing another 20cm (eight inch) fall, which is half of it’s accumulation in the past seven days. Livigno added 30cm (a foot) and Pratonevoso - Mondolè ski 25cm (10 inches). There was even still more snow in the Monterosa region, which has been one of the world’s snowierst spots this winter, Alagna Valsesia reported another 10cm (four inches). The Presena glacier which will be open through May has some of the most snow in the country with five metres (17 feet) on upper slopes, Cervinia has 370cm (over 12 feet).
In Austria and Switzerland there was also fresh snow at the weekend. There are still a dozen ski areas open in Austria and half of those will remain open throughout all or most of May. However Hochar, Obertauern and Ischgl are scheduled to close this weekend (May 3rd) the latter following the famous annual Top of the mountain May concert, this year starring Kylie. The Dachstein and Molltal glaciers as well as Krippenstein ski are all have more than four metres (over 13 feet) of snow lying on upper slopes, the most in the country. In Switzerland Andermatt, Saas Fee and Zermatt have the greatest snow depths and added more fresh powder at the start of the week. Each has a snow depth of more than four metres (13 feet) on upper slopes. Most of the Swiss resorts that remain open close this weekend, but Engelberg and Zermatt remain open to mid-May, and in the latter’s case, year round. Saas Fee re-opens in mid-June.
There’s still skiing in the Pyrenees and other regions of Spain after their record-breaking snow season, now more than five months old. Andorra’s ski slopes received a light covering to top up base levels at the weekend. Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly ski resort, has some of the best conditions in Spain and has extended its season for nearly three more weeks, until May 15th. It is currently offering half price ski passes, sun, three metres (ten feet) of spring snow and more than 50km of slopes. "Without doubt this is a unique opportunity to enjoy the best spring snow of Europe", commented Skiinfo.com’s Spain manager, Raul Revuelta Carbajo Ph. D.
The ski season has ended in Scotland and Eastern Europe but in Scandinavia many areas arer still celebrating the long Spring daylight hours and warmer conditions. The coming May weekend is a big one for festival events and competitions at resorts like area in Sweden and Hemsedal in Norway. A dusting of snow adding a centimetre or two (half an inch) more snow in resorts like Voss and Beitostølen has helped to keep conditions fresh.
In North America, on the East Coast, Killington is the last ski area open and will remain so until this Saturday, May 2nd. The Superstar Express is open for spring skiing and riding with the K-1 Express Gondola open at the weekend, conditions permitting. Killington is offering Blue Square and Black Diamond terrain only with no Green Circle terrain available. New late-season hike-to terrain park is open on Lower Conclusion. Snowbird in Utah surpassed the season-to-date snowfall total of 600 inches (15 metres) for the second straight year thanks to a 15 inch (38cm) storm over the weekend. The resort is the only one in Utah still open for spring skiing and snowboarding. With a total snowfall of 612 inches (1,530cm) and a mid-mountain base of 137 inches (342cm), there should be ample snow to ride on through to the US Memorial Day holiday in late May. In addition a fast-moving storm has left over 6 inches (15cm) of fresh snow on Squaw Valley's upper mountain, ensuring continued excellent conditions this weekend and through Squaw's scheduled closing datein a little under a fortnight. After the unexpected boost to its already robust spring snowpack, the fast-moving spring storm soon cleared and skiers and riders enjoyed the new snow under clear blue Sierra skies. Squaw Valley's base snowpack on the upper mountain is still over three metres (ten feet), and with exceptional spring conditions, Squaw Valley is scheduled to stay open through to May 10th.
In Canada three resorts remain open, with Lake Louise closing this weekend (May 3rd) but Sunshine, also in Alberta, open to late May and Whistler beyond that on the glacier. All three have had fresh snow in the past few days and Marmot Basin by Jasper closed the season with fresh snow last weekend. Work is now starting there on a new fast quad for next season, one of the few new lifts to be built in North America this summer.
In the southern hemisphere over half-a-metre (20 inches) of snow has been falling on Australia’s ski slopes over the past 48 hours, with most still not expecting to open for nearly six weeks or more. Snow continues to fall at Perisher in New South Wales. From the peaks to the valleys, a thick layer of snow can be found, making the resort look more like July than April. Another 25cm (10 inches) of snow settled across the upper elevations on Monday night, April 27th. Overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius and it is currently 0 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the Forester Quad Express. Weather forecasters have predicted that overnight temperatures will stay nice and cool with more snow showers expected in early May. Cold temperatures will also allow Perisher to commence its snowmaking operations earlier as well.
Wind-drifts of over two metres (seven feet) can be found in places giving visitors an early taste of winter and the chance to have some cold play fun. Light falls are expected to continue throughout today. Mt Hotham has had a similar snowfall. From 11pm on Saturday night a snow blizzard has captured the resort leaving nothing uncovered. Although the start of the season is more than six weeks away locals hiked up to get the very first tracks of 2009 in the southern hemisphere.