Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Little Fresh Snow In The Alps But Big Dumps In The US, Scotland and Scandinavia

Skiinfo reports that there has been little fresh snowfall in the Alps in recent days, and in some cases some unwanted warm temperatures and even rain. However in most cases the accumulated snow to date has led to pleasant ski conditions in Europe. To the north of the continent heavy snow has continued to fall over Scotland and Scandinavia, while in the East it has been unseasonably warm, leading to difficult conditions for skiers in Bulgaria. Across the Atlantic there have been big snowfalls on both the East and west sides of North America.

Although things have been quiet for the past three or four days, It snowed a lot last week in France with 13 powder alarms in the French Alps on Friday. Le Grand Bornand was one of the big winners with 75cm (2.5 feet) of fresh snow accumulated over seven days. Hubert Bon-Bétend Le Grand Bornand ski patrol chief told Skiinfo: "It had not snowed a lot in the beginning of the season but since early January, the resort has received regular snowfalls of 15 to 20cm. The snow coverage is very good with 100cm at 1200m and 170cm at 2300m. The snow depths are measured twice a day, once at 7:30am and again at 12:30. The avalanche risk is moderate now, but it was at maximum on Sunday because of mild temperatures. It was cold in the night from Sunday to Monday which helped stabilize the snow coverage. We trigger avalanches artificially when there’s 10-15cm of new snowfall when it is windy, otherwise we wait until 20cm. We now hope that the temperatures will not be too high so we can have a good end to the season". Other big accumulations of 45- 52cm (18-21 inches) were re4ported by La Clusaz, Val Thorens and Alpe d'Huez. Chamonix Mont-Blanc has the deepest snow in France with 4.2m (14 feet).
Italy is reporting less favorable conditions with bad weather today, especially in the north and the centre of the country with warm temperatures bringing some unwanted rainfall this afternoon and more expected tomorrow. Unusually, conditions are better for skiing in Italy’s southern areas. There have been healthy snow accumulations over the past seven days at some resorts however, Courmayeur has had 75cm (2.5 feet) of new snow, Arabba Marmolada 70cm – it continues to claim the deepest snow in Europe, with five metres (nearly 27 feet) accumulated, La Thuile has had 55cm (22 inches) and Bardonecchia 40cm (16 inches).
Austria got some new snow today with Sölden, Obertauern and the Ski Welt with Brixental, Söll and Ellmau getting 5cm (2 inches) each. Some snow had already been falling in St. Anton, Hochfügen (both 5cm) and Saalbach Hinterglemm (10cm) yesterday. In mountainous areas more new snow is expected in the coming days. The biggest snow accumulations in the country in the past week has been at Zauchensee (30 cm/a foot) and Sölden (29 cm/11.5 inches). The snow depth in the latter has "climbed" up to 202cm (6.6 feet), with some new snow falling almost every day (Skiinfo’s Snowfinder expects 13 cm of new snow in Sölden for tomorrow). Flachau had 25cm (10 inches) of new snow in a week.
In Switzerland the latest powder alarms were issued last weekend with 30cm (a foot) in Nax as well as Champoussin. There’s been less new snow in the German speaking parts of the country but Engelberg and Lötschental are still on top of the list of biggest snow depths with 285 and 272cm (9-10 feet)of snow on their mountains.
In Germany up to 10cm (four inches) of new snow was reported in Bavaria this morning. Oberstdorf has already had 10 cm yesterday at the mountains Fellhorn and Nebelhorn.
Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain with five metres on their upper slopes, equalling Arabba in Italy for the deepest in the world. There has been much less snow in Spain this week than last but new snow is expected over the next few days. The Pyrenees are still looking very nice with more than 1.5m of snow on the top of the slopes. Baqueira Beret has 175cm (six feet) of snow on top and 93km of runs open, Cerler up to 220 cm (picture attached) of snow and 71 km of runs open, Formigal up to 240cm (eight feet) of snow and 136 km of runs open. Andorra has also not seen fresh snow for nearly two weeks, but conditions remain relatively good thanks to a healthy base build up, with most areas reporting 1.2 – 1.8m (4-6 feet) on upper slopes.
In Scandinavia it seems there's nothing holding back the snow right now. It continues to accumulate from last week causing problems for traffic and transport like buses and railways and leading to some roof collapses in the south of Sweden while at the same time adding to the great snow depths at ski resorts across the whole country. This means there are really great conditions from the north to south of the region, right in time for the second week of Sweden’s current winter holiday period. During the last week ski resorts further up north have had some serious amounts of snow fall as well. The small resort of Nalovardo got the most with 33cm (13 inches) followed by Branäs 27cm (11 inches), Tandådalen 17cm (7 inches) and Åre 10cm (4 inches). The forecast for the rest of the week looks really promising, especially in the north. Riksgränsen, which recently re-opened for its 2010 ski season through to June up in the Arctic Circle is expecting massive snow falls starting on Thursday.
In Scotland the weather service recently confirmed it has been the coldest winter since 1962-3, nearly 50 years ago. Still more heavy snow has left all five centres fully open, with Cairngorm needing to blast terrain above the ski area for the first time to minimise avalanche danger.
It’s the opposite conditions in parts of eastern Europe where mild weather has brought early spring to ski areas in Bulgaria, which are struggling to battle a rapid thaw and sticky snow as temperatures have almost reached double figures in the past week.
Across the Atlantic, in the US and Canada there have been more serious snowfalls on both East and West sides of the continent. On the East Coast the "snowicane" that paralyzed the region for nearly a week has set many ski areas up to be skiing well into Spriong 2010. After ending February with nearly 2.4m (eight feet) of natural snowfall over five days Belleayre in New York state is primed for a monumental March. To the north Le Massif, an hour outside Quebec City in Quebec, Canada, reported 72cm (28 inches) of fresh snow too. On the western side of the continent nearly three feet (90cm) of snow has fallen at Beaver Creek and Vail, while Breckenridge received 28 inches (71cm); Heavenly, 25 inches (64cm), and Keystone was walloped with 20 inches (51cm). The heavens opened with 10 straight days of relentless snow in Colorado resorts and Pacific storms in the west.