Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yes, It’s Still Snowing, A Lot...

Skiinfo reports that although most ski resorts have now finished their 08-09 season, the heavy snow that has been the main feature of this year’s winter is continuing to fall in abundance in many areas. The good news for skiers and boarders who want to enjoy fresh powder even now, is that there are still hundreds of ski areas open.
Italy has seen the most snow in Europe over the past seven days with the Monterosa Ski area in the Valle d'Aosta reporting up to 1.5m (five feet) of new snow in the past week. Gressoney-La-Trinité, one of the ski resorts in the area, reported the maximum fall with nearby Champoluc receiving 140cm. Italian ski resorts still claim the greatest snow depths in Europe with Sella Nevea reporting 590cm (Nearly 20 feet) on upper slopes and the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale in the Adamello ski area, which is open through May and probably in to June, having five metres (nearly 17 feet) on upper slopes.
French resorts have seen up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow in the past week with Les 2 Alpes, La Grave, Pra Loup and Isola 2000 all reporting between 30 and 60cm (1-2 feet) accumulating. There was 20cm (eight inches) of new snow in Isola 2000 on Monday (20 April) and 10cm (four inches) in Val Cenis yesterday, 21st April. Cauterets in the Pyrenees has the biggest snow depth with 480cm (16 feet) of snow on upper slopes. In the Alps Argentière and Chamonix Mont-Blanc have 370cm (over 12 feet) each. Chamonix and Tignes are open to May 10th, Val d’Isere, La Grave and Val Thorens to May 3rd.
In Switzerland, Andermatt, Saas Fee and Zermatt have all added 30cm (a foot) of snow or more to their totals in the past week. The same three resorts have the most snow in the country with 400 – 470cm (13 – 16 feet) on upper slopes.
Smaller falls have been reported in Austria but Solden has had another 10cm (four inches) of snow on its glaciers. The Dachstein and Molltal glaciers still have the greatest depths in the country with over four metres of snow on each.
Spain still continuers to be one of the big snow success stories of the 08-09 season with falls that begun six months ago continuing even now with Europe’s most southerly resort, Sierra Nevada, receiving another 30cm (foot) of snow on Sunday. Six ski areas have now extended their ski season in to May. San Isidro, Leitariegos and Alto Campoo are all open to May 3rd, Boí Taüll and Masella to May 10th and Sierra Nevada – which has the most snow in the country at present with three metres (ten feet) still on upper slopes.
In Andorra, where the lifts will run until May 3rd at GrandValira, there was another 6cm (three inches) of snow yesterday.
In Scandinavia the northerly latitude of resorts in Finland, Norway and Sweden mean that they’re well placed to take advantage of the best late season conditions. Major events are underway or coming soon at leading resorts such as Norway’s Hemsedal and Sweden’s Are. Many resorts have received a centimetre or two of fresh snow in recent days giving a fresh dusting on top of the established base, Beitostolen in Norway is the latest to report an extra centimetre of snow today (Wednesday, 22nd April).
Elsewhere in Europe most ski areas are now closed. Scotland’s last skilift operations for the season were on Sunday.
In the US, Colorado, where ironically many resorts closed last weekend if they had not already, received the kind of big snowfalls that would have been useful last November when they were opening for the season. Loveland, which is still open, had one of the best falls with two feet (60cm) of new snow. Arapahoe basin also scored big time and Echo Mountain and Aspen Highlands, which are open for the next few weekends, likewise. In California, Squaw Valley (picture attached) is once again offering the longest ski season in Lake Tahoe, as the resort plans to stay open for skiing and riding through to May 10th. Squaw Valley’s annual snowfall of 450 inches (1130cm) and mountain topography featuring acres upon acres of upper elevation North-facing terrain are among the natural attributes that enable the resort to remain open through the middle of May each ski season. Base depths currently measure 125-135 inches (325 – 355cm) on upper elevations. The US National Weather Service is calling for snow this weekend, April 24 through to April 26th.
In Canada the four West coast resorts still open are Jasper, Lake Louise and Sunshine in Canada and whistler in British Columbia. All but Jasper are open in to May and all have had more fresh snow in recent days with low temperatures helping to maintain snow integrity.
On the East Coast Killington in Vermont and Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec are both still open.
Although it’s May next week, more fresh snow is forecast for Western North America and for the Alps in the next few days.


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