Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fresh Snow News - Incredible Snow For Western US As Europe Shivers

Exceptional snowfall has been reported by ski areas in California, which have knocked an Italian glacier resort of the world top spot for deepest snow depth after falls of up to 12 feet (3.6 metres) in the last week sent the snowiest up towards the five metre (17 foot) accumulated snow base mark.
Elsewhere in the world the falls have been less spectacular. France did especially well at the weekend, with accumulations of up to a metre and several Swiss, Austrian, German and Italian resorts reported up to 560cm )two feet) in the past week – more than enough to boost coverage and with temperatures generally low, leave excellent conditions.
In Scotland – as well as other North Western European ski hills in England and Belgium – conditions are generally very good, with the highly unusual (...for the time of year in Belgium and England at least) pre-Christmas snowfalls and low temperatures leaving up to 30cm of great snow on the slopes.
While Northern and Western Europe freezes, Austria, which coped better than most in the recent cold snap, has had warmer temperatures and little fresh snow. Weather forecasts predict it will get colder again with more snowfalls on Christmas Eve. Dozens of popular ski resorts already have more than a metre of snow on their slopes. Famous winter resort St. Anton reports a snow layer of 170 cm, Obergurgl measures 180cm. On the glaciers the snow depths are even bigger 184cm at Pitztal and 193cm in Kaunertal while 220cm of snow on the Mölltal glacier is top of the list. The most new snow during the last seven days was reported in Hochfügen/Zillertal and Loser Sandling with 35-45 cm.
It’s snowing again in France, a few quiet days after the deluge at the weekend which saw Chatel clock up a metre on new snow I the past week. Montgenevre was the last to post a powder alarm with 20cm of new snow in 24 hours on Monday. Flaine and la Rosiere currently have the deepest snow bases in the country at 1.9m (over six feet) but freeriders considering venturing off piste should beware the avalanche danger is nearly at hits maximum danger level, with a four rating at several resorts in the southern Alps including Serre Chevalier.
It’s snowing in Italy today with Cortina reporting 50cm of new snow. Italy continues to have the deepest snowbases reported in Europe with the Presena Glacier near the top with 4.2m (14 feet) of snow still the deepest in Europe. Pejo is only a few feet behind with 3.6m (12 feet).
In Switzerland it is a similar picture to Austria, with current warmer temperatures and limited snowfall likely to change from Christmas Eve on, especially in the north and east, where snowfalls are predicted for Friday. But with the snowfalls of last week some Swiss resorts have had a lot of fresh powder anyway. Vercorin accumulated 85cm of new snow in the past week and Gstaad – Glacier 3000 had 70 cm. Crans Montana, Anzère and Lötschental also got at least 50 cm each. The biggest snow accumulation in Switzerland can be found in Engelberg – a snow depth of 215cm was measured there this morning. The winter resort has 60km of slopes and 18 ski lifts open. Laax, Saas Fee and Andermatt report 180-183cm of snow on upper slopes.
After the heavy snowfalls of last week in Germany you can find snow depths of around a metre in many ski areas now – in the Alps as well as the Central Uplands. Oberstdorf has 120 cm of snow lying on upper slopes, for example.
Last weekend over 30 cm of snow fell on Belgium. Resorts like Bütchenbach, Worriken and the Eifel Ski Centre in Rocherath are now on top of the country’s snow list with 60cm of snow lying at each. Only 2cm away is Signal de Botrange with 58cm and Belgium’s highest peak at 693m. Ovifat Alpine has 55cm and the country’s biggest alpine ski resort Baraque de Fraiture reports 50cm of snow.
Snow cover is adequate but not exceptional in the Pyrenees at present with most resortys in Andorra, France and Spain reporting snow depths of 30-90cm.
Scandinavian resorts have remained cold and snowy over the past seven days with the odd few centimetres of snow here and there. In Norway Hemsedal with 28cm of cover could ideally do with more, Voiss has 70-80cm and is in great shape.
Although the falls have not been as spectacular as further south, the snow has been topping up healthy bases in Western Canada and the three ski areas around Banff, for example, are fully open for Christmas offering more than 8,000 acres of terrain between them on one ticket. There’s less snow in Quebec but low temperatures have allowed the snowmakers to go in to action, and big resorts like Mont Ste Anne and Tremblant have over 60cm (two foot) bases at the top of the slopes.
The US West has been the big snow news of the past week, particularly California where Mammoth Mountain (picture attached) received a metre of new snow in 24 hours on Monday, the culmination, so far at least, of a spectacular week in which the resort received 3.6 metres of snow and its base reached 4.6 metres, now the deepest in the world. It is were not for Mammoth the five foot accumulations at most Lake Tahoe resorts to the north would be headline grabbing, as it is the top 15 snowfall accumulations of the past 7 days are all in California, the smallest 1.8 metres (six feet). And this is just the latest of a series of giant snow storms to hit the region, and it’s not yet Christmas. Conditions in other Western Us states like Utah, Wyoming and Colorado are all good too with most areas adding several feet to their healthy bases, Steamboat reports it has just passed the 150 inches of snow fallen season-to-date. On the east coast conditions are good too with cold weather allowing snowmaking guns to top up the recent heavy natural snowfalls with 60-70cm a typical base depth.

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