Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Big Snowfalls Are Back, All Over the World

Skiinfo reports that after a few weeks of warmer weather and minimal new snow across the northern hemisphere, resorts on both sides of north America and across western Europe have reported big snowfalls in the past few days, there’s also new snow in the southern hemisphere.
France has seen increasingly large snow accumulations over the past four days. Over the weekend there were more than 30 powder alarms across the country with resorts receiving at least 20cm (8 inches) of new powder. Among these, six resorts (Les Menuires, Morillon, Saint Martin de Belleville, Sainte Foy Tarentaise, Samöens, and Valfrejus) received 40cm (16 inches) of snow, while another six (Orelle ,Val Thorens, La Clusaz, Val d'Isère , Le Grand Bornand , Manigod and Alpe d'Huez ) got 30cm (a foot) on Sunday alone. Fifty low-lying French ski resorts have already closed their doors for the season, but there are still many ski resorts open in France and the snow depth is good for the end of season. Chamonix has the greatest snow depth with 396cm (13.2 feet) and Les Arcs has seen the most snow in the past seven days with 70cm (2.3 feet). Avoriaz has had 65cm (2.2 feet) and Sainte Foy Tarentaise, Samöens and Morillon 60cm each. The snowfall is expected to continue for the next week at least up to Easter.
Italy has seen a succession of weather fronts passing through its ski regions, especially in the north and these are set to continue for at least the next week. A new phase will begin on March 31st and is expected to last until April 5th, with snow down to 1000m in the Alps and the northern Apennines. In the past week Cervinia has reported 80cm (2.6 feet) of new snow and Madesimo 70cm (2.3 feet) with Plan de Corones/Kronplatz in the Dolomites 60cm (two feet). The Marmolada glacier above Arabba has the most snow lying with 5.2m (17.3 feet), the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale has four metres (13.3 feet).
There have been big snowfalls too in parts of Switzerland where Andermatt has reported a metre (3.3 feet) of new snow in the past week, more than almost any other resort anywhere. There have been powder alarms this morning in Arosa and Leysin.
Austria hasn’t missed out either with the Kleinwalsertal area reporting the biggest snow accumulation in the country of the last seven days with 50cm (20 inches) of new snow. The 3,029m high Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Zell am See-Kaprun is now enjoying its snow sure spring skiing season, but is already planning ahead for its summer season. All those who are looking for a freestyle challenge have to drop in at Mellow Park. The snow park boasts three different areas which are all located at an altitude of above 2,500 metres which is a guarantee for natural snow. The resort will stage its ‘Winter final’ weekend from April 30 to May 2nd to also kick off the glacier snow season. The three day event brings free tests of the new 2010/11 season ski and boards, a pipe session, glacier disco, live music and more. Other activities to try include a helmet cam-test, free waxing of your gear, appearances with autograph sessions from ski world cup stars and live bands. There will be apres ski parties with Dj each day at the valley station and an evening party at Kaprun Castle on the Saturday night, May 1. In July the area’s Ice Arena opens its gates on 3rd July giving more summer sliding options to young and old guests alike, including snow slides, an ice bar and even an ice beach to literally ‘chill out’ on.
The snow is still falling in Scandinavia too. In the northern parts of Sweden Nalovardo reports 22cm (9 inches) the last week and Ramundberget the same. The snow coverage is still looking good although warm temperatures have been dominating the last week. Riksgränsen has the most snow in the country with 142cm (just under five feet).
There’s been new snow in Scotland with resorts reporting up to 20cm (8 inches) of new snow in the run up to Easter.
Most of the top Spanish ski resorts have reported powder snow. Baqueira has a 155cm (five foot) base and 105km of runs open, Formigal (picture attached) up to 220cm (7.3 feet) and 124 km. Most areas will close after Easter and by April 18th with the two exceptions of Masella and Sierra Nevada which will close on May 2nd. Sierra Nevada is still offering the best conditions for the next few weeks and half price ski passes (20,50 €, starting April 19th) with five metres of spring snow giving visitors the chance to enjoy spring snow then a seaside evening in nearby Almuñecar.

Elsewhere in Europe the season is winding down at most resorts with warm temperatures in Bulgaria and Andorra meaning slushy conditions on the remaining snow.
In North America there have been big snowfalls once again on both East and West Coasts. New snowfall on the US West Coast has led resorts to start announcing season extensions. Aspen's ski season will be extended by two extra weekends. The Aspen Skiing Co. will keep the lifts running on Aspen Mountain on April 17-18 and 24/25. Similarly Alta in Utah has announced it will open for the 24th/25th after previously saying it would close on the 18th. Winter is far from over at Whistler Blackcomb after a powerful March storm dumped 60cm/23 inches of snow in 48 hours, priming the slopes for an epic Easter long weekend of skiing and riding. The 2009/2010 season is so far Whistler Blackcomb’s third snowiest winter on record with over 1,346cm or 44 feet fallen. The second snowiest season is only slightly higher with 1,416cm/46.5 feet of snow. "Our snow base is more than 350cm/11.5 feet and conditions could not be better for this time of year. The snowpack is deeper than normal and we’ve received plenty of fresh snow with this recent storm", said Doug MacFarlane, Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Manager. "All of this snow sets us up really well for winter-like conditions this long weekend. We’re also looking at a great base for spring skiing, which will continue through to May 24th". Cypress Mountain, famous from the Olympics, has reported another 50cm of new snow. A little inland Fernie Alpine Resort received 25cm (10 inches) of snowfall overnight and over 36cm (14inches) in four days while Kimberley Alpine Resort had a nice dump of 10cm (4 inches) in 24 hours. Further east still in Alberta, Spring skiing at Marmot Basin keeps gaining momentum, with 15 centimetres (six inches) of new snow in the past 48 hours and more new snow expected in days to come. With the recent mild temperatures, excellent snow coverage and a 150cm (five foot) base. There’s been fresh snow on the East Coast too, at Mont-Sainte-Anne and Stoneham Mountain Resorts in Quebec nearly 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow received during the last week.
In the southern hemisphere Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand has reported first snow on the slopes, three months before its ski areas are due to open. "Yesterday's southerly front painted an icing sugar like coating on Ruapehu's upper slopes. A sure sign that winter is not far away", said Mike Smith, Marketing Manager of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts. Turoa is scheduled to open on June 19th and work is progressing well at Whakapapa rebuilding the Knoll Ridge Chalet and Cat Shed. Whakapapa is scheduled to open June 26th.