Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Low Temperatures In Europe, More Big Snow For Western North America

Skiinfo reports that Europe has had quite a quiet week in terms of fresh snowfall but in most areas temperatures have been low, helping to maintain snow quality, and small snowfalls have helped freshen up terrain at a number of centres. In North America there have been more huge snowfalls on the west side of the continent.
In France the cold temperatures have kept the snow in excellent condition for skiing. There’s been little new snow, except for a big snowfall recorded on Monday in the country’s Vosges region. Otherwise resorts have received 10 to 20cm (4-8 inches) through the week. However new big snowfalls are expected for tomorrow, Thursday. Laurie Martin Communications Officer of Montgenèvre told Skiinfo, "Snow conditions are optimal in Montgenèvre with 220cm at the top of the slopes and 160cm at the bottom. The whole area has been open since the end of December and the connections with the 'Voie Lactée' (Milky Way) are also open, which is not always the case at this time of the year. The coming February holidays will be good for skiers. It has been snowing steadily since mid-December and we have a very good season, with skiers happy. The snow cover is good and stable and we expect new snowfall on Friday". Chamonix will host the Nissan Freeride on Saturday and then stage the postponed opening event on the next suitable day afterwards. The Russian event was due to have been staged in the 2014 Olympic venue of Sochi last week but had to be cancelled due to strong winds and heavy snowfall there. Chamonix currently has the deepest snowbase in France with 3.9m (13 feet) on upper slopes. Flaine has 2.65m (nine feet), La Clusaz 2.6m (8.7 feet) and La Grave 2.5m (8.3 feet).
Snow began to fall again in Austria and Germany in recent days with more new snow forecast for tomorrow and in to the weekend – especially in the western Vorarlberg, Tirol and Salzburg provinces. Temperatures have been as low as – 20 degrees and colder in some parts. The deepest snow is on the glaciers (Mölltal 330cm/11 feet, Kaunertal 209cm/7 feet on upper runs). Sölden got the most snow in the country this week with 25cm (10 inches) with Kleinwalsertal reporting the biggest single fall of 17cm (six inches). Maria Alm/ Hochkönig and Alpbach had 10cm (4 inches) each.
It’s a similar picture in Switzerland where Elm reported the most new snow of the past week, with 30cm (a foot) accumulated. Disentis, Davos and Saas Fee got 12-15cm (5-6 inches) each. Andermatt has the biggest snow depth with 210cm (7 feet). Saas Fee and St Moritz have only a few centimetres/inches less.
Italy has also had a quiet week although low temperatures have brought some snow at low altitude in the North of the country and also in the central Appennine mountains. It’s snowing there now with Limone and Prato Nevoso in the north west reporting 20-25cm (8-10 inches) so far today. The Presena and Marmolada glaciers both have the most snow with about 3.9m (13 feet) on upper slopes, Bormio has 3 metres (10 feet).
The cold weather has extended as far as Belgium where recent fresh snow fall (10cm/4 inches on 24 Jan), combined with the cold temperatures (-5°to -15°C) has led some nordic resorts in the East of the country to re-open their tracks. Baraque Michel, Mont Spinet and Losheimergraben are offering Nordic Skiing on 10cm of snow. Other resorts, and hopefully also the Alpine resorts will follow as more cold and snow is predicted for next week.
There’s been little new snow in the past week in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Base depths in Andorra remain relatively good with 60-130cm (2-4.3 feet) at most areas providing perfectly adequate cover on all but the steepest slopes. Although there has been little new snow this week, cold weather has helped Spanish ski resorts to maintain and improve conditions on the slopes. Typically resorts have 30-105cm (1-3.5 feet) at the base of their runs and 150-210cm (5-7 feet) on upper slopes. Cerler has some of the deepest snow in the country with 175cm (nearly 6 feet) on upper slopes. However Sierra Nevada in the south reports the greatest snow depth of three metres (ten feet) at the top and Formigal has the most terrain open with 136km (80 miles) of runs. More snow is expected tomorrow.

In Eastern Europe there have been some snow showers, particularly in the Czech and Slovak Republic, but it remains a moderate, if improving, first-half of the season in Bulgaria where cover remains rather thin at Borovets and Pamporovo, although better in Bansko.
Scandinavia has not had much snow in the past week, with Sweden's leader Are reporting 7cm (three inches) of new snow on Monday and Nalovardo this most with 11cm. The weather looks set to change in the next 24 hours with snow almost everywhere (It’s already falling) and up to a foot (30cm) of new stuff expected in the next few days in the mountains. Resorts in Norway have begun issuing powder alarms today and Kvitfjell has one of the biggest snowfalls of the past week, with 33cm (13 inches) accumulated.
In Scotland conditions are excellent at Cairngorm, which continues its superb season with up to 1.8m (six feet) on upper slopes and 60cm (two feet) on lower runs. The area has been closed for prolonged period over the past three weeks as heavy snow blocked roads and buried lifts and restaurants, but is now fully open with great conditions. The two other eastern Scottish ski areas at Glenshee and The Lecht don’t have as much snow but do have enough to be in great shape. On the West Coast the other two Scottish areas of Glencoe and Nevis range are open but with less snow.
Heavy snow up and down North America’s Pacific Coast has brought huge snow accumulations to most resorts, and also caused operational difficulties at some. In the north there’s been yet more now at Whistler, with the Olympics now just over a fortnight away. Its season-to-date snowfall is now nearly 10 metres (30 feet). Fellow host Cypress Mountain also had a respite from the thaw and rain that is threatening the snowboarding and freestyle venues, with some fresh snow there too. To the south of the region thousands of southern Californians who flocked to Mountain High resort (picture attached) in the San Gabriel Mountains, which has received five feet (150cm) of snow in recent storms, were turned away by police due to dangerous road conditions and diminishing fuel and food supplies. Truck convoys were organised to deliver food, supplies and fuel to the area on Monday, with roads re-opening that evening. However more snow is forecast, if on a smaller scale. John McColly, Mountain High’s Director of Marketing said, "There is a reason I am in this business. And this is it. Skiers and snowboarders that braved the storm are grinning from ear to ear. And I’m one of them". With the fresh snow there is an enormous temptation to go out of bounds but both Mountain High and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s department advise against that. Says McColly, "Anything outside of Mountain High’s boundaries is not patrolled so if you run into any trouble, you are on your own. There is plenty of terrific tree skiing and natural terrain within Mountain High’s permitted area so stay in bounds, enjoy the fresh snow, and be safe". It’s a similar story at other western resorts, Jackson Hole has reported more than three feet of new snow, Snowbird in Utah, seven feet in seven days. Up in British Columbia, monumental snowfall over the last week has created perfect conditions at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. With a mid-mountain snow base of 320cm and 399cm at the top, the resort is once again the home of Canada’s deepest snowpack. The news couldn’t be any better for the first wave of Olympic athletes who arrive this week to train at the Island mountain. "We received over a metre and a half of snow in the last six days", says Resort spokesperson Brent Curtain. The Chinese Biathlon team arrived in the Comox Valley late Thursday and hit the snow on Friday, January 22nd. The team will train at the mountain’s popular Nordic Centre, an obvious choice for numerous cross-country and biathlon teams over the next month. A total of 26 teams from 15 countries are performing their final on-snow preparations at Mount Washington before heading back to the Lower Mainland and Whistler for the Games. It’s been less promising on the East coast with warmer weather and some resorts reporting rain over the weekend, but it’s now colder in most areas and Smugglers Notch in Vermont is among those reporting fresh snow in the past 24 hours.
Elsewhere in the world, Japan’ Niseko looks set for record breaking January snowfall. "Consistent snow falls for the last two weeks of December and another metre to celebrate the New Year here in Niseko have made for some epic skiing conditions with waist deep powder for everyone! With a village average top temperature of -2 °C and an average low of -8 °C since the New Year the base is in great condition. Get ready for some of the lightest, driest powder on the planet- the forecast is for continued moderate to heavy snow falls for the next week", said an excited Ski Japan statement.