Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Delayed As More Snow Falls

Skiinfo reports that whilst Spring conditions have become the norm at some ski areas, winter is yet to release its grip on many parts of the Alps and Western Canada.
In Austria many ski resorts still have great snow depths right in time for the Easter holidays. Skiinfo issued more than 30 powder alarms in Austria on Monday alone with Nassfeld receiving another 50cm (20 inches) and Bad Gastein 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow. "There’s up to 330cm (11 feet) of snow in the Kleinwalsertal", Rolf Köberle of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus told Skiinfo’s Pascal Bovée. "It’s almost Easter time and still there’s so much snow – I hope it will attract lots of people to have fun on the slopes!". The greatest snow depth in the country is at Hochkar 540cm (18 feet) while the Dachstein glacier has five metres (17 feet) and Ehrwald 470cm (Nearly 16 feet). The Fellhorn/Kanzelwand area on the German-Austrian border ( the top can be reached from both countries) received a metre of fresh snow in the past seven days, the most in the country although Lech Zürs am Arlberg got another 80cm (nearly three feet) – good news for St Christoph which is open in to May.
In Switzerland eight resorts including Laax received 100cm or more fresh snow during the last week. Andermatt has five metres (17 feet) of snow, Engelberg 410cm (14 feet) and Zermatt 408cm (14 feet). Meiringen-Hasliberg was one of those receiving a metre (3.3 feet) of fresh snow this week and now has 370cm (over 123 feet) on its upper slopes.
In Germany the Zugspitz has the most snow with 460cm (over 15 feet) lying.
In France snow coverage in many French resorts is very good for the start of April. Skiinfo France issued 13 powderalarms for heavy snow at the week-end. Big winners on Sunday included Serre Chevalier in the Southern Alps with 23 cms (nine inches) of snow and Avoriaz in the Northern Alps with 30cm (a foot). Cauterets in the Pyrénées continued its spectacular Spring with another 30cm of fresh powder taking its upper slopes bases to 4.6 metres (over 15 feet) – one of the deepest in the country.
Italy saw heavy snow at many Northern resorts, particularly around the Sella Ronda area of the Dolomites. Arabba Marmolada has received the most in the past week with 80cm (nearly three feet) of powder with the Monterosa Ski area including Alagna adding 60cm (two feet) and Bormio and Cortina d'Ampezzo 50cm (20 inches) each. The greatest snow depths in the country remain above six metres (20 feet) as we enter April with 650cm (22 feet) at Sella Nevea and 530cm (18 feet) on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale where skiing is likely to continue at least in to June.
In the Pyrenees the spectacular winter is still not over with at least a dusting of fresh powder in Andorra and at Spanish resorts where snow depths are typically still at least two metres (seven feet) on upper slopes. Another 10cm (four inches) of snow fell on Monday at Formigal (picture attached) in Spain on top of the base of 2.8m (nine feet). The weather is currently sunny but temperatures remain cool and more snow is predicted later in the week promising great conditions for Easter.
Formigal will be holding an Easter egg hunt where prizes will include a week’s holiday to the resort next winter. The resort is also offering free lift passes to all new bookings until the end of the season.
In Scandinavia where the summer skiing season begins in Norway next month there have been some small new snowfalls. In Sweden Kläppen got the most fresh snow in the past week with 18cm (Seven inches) more and Lindvallen 17cm (six inches). The past week has brought some warmer Spring temperatures but conditions are described as, "still really good for the upcoming Easter holidays next week", by Skiinfo Sweden’s country manager Christer Hillörn who notes that the weather looks kind of mixed in the coming week with possible snow showers forecast.
In Eastern Europe it has been a mix of sunshine and very cloudy days meaning sometimes poor visibility but good snow and on other days warm sunshine but rather sticky snow. There has been limited fresh snow but in Bulgaria snow depths are still as much as four metres (13.3 feet) in Bansko, although this is the exception with other areas reporting closer to 90cm (three feet).
Scotland’s ski areas have had a dusting of fresh snow although conditions are not yet as great as last April when snow cover was excellent but few people bothered turning out meaning those that did had the empty slopes under blue skies to themselves. However it has been enough for The Lecht to re-open joining Cairngorm (Aviemore), Nevis Range and Glencoe which had stayed open through the warmer weeks of latter March.
In North America Western Canada continues to perform well with fresh snow falling in Alberta in recent days at Sunshine, Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Marmot Basin. It’s particularly good news for Sunshine which has some of the best snow of the season to date at present and is open for nearly two months more, while most other Canadian and US resorts closes in the next few weeks.
South of the border the weather has been warmer, especially on the East Coast, with snow cover suffering as a result. However North Westerly US states like Utah have performed better and of the resorts that are typically open in to June are, fortunately, the major beneficiaries of several feet of new snow (60cm+) – amongst them Snowbird in Utah and the near year-round operator Timberline in Oregon.