Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fresh Snow News - More Snow For Eastern Alps and North America

It’s almost déjà-vu with a similar snow report to a week ago. There’s been more heavy snow in Western North America, which continues to boast the best conditions in the northern hemisphere; and also fresh snow on the Eastern side of the Alps in Austria and Germany, but with little or nothing on the French side. Despite this, conditions on the piste on higher slopes are generally good thank to the accumulated base from last autumn and low temperatures. Off-piste skiing is severely limited. Elsewhere conditions are still reported to be good in Scotland at all five areas and Winter is having a comeback in Belgium. As temperatures go down, new snowfall is reported from the Hautes Fagnes, to be exactly around Belgium’s highest ground Signal de Botrange at 693m. Last night (Tuesday 25th)13cm of snow where reported with more expected in the coming week.
In Germany, where Garmisch will soon be hosting the biggest competition of winter 2010-11, the bi-annual Alpine Skiing World Championships, the nearby Zugspitze has the most snow in the country with 230cm and has had 102cm of new snow in the past week, no other German ski resort had more powder.
The snow is back in Austria and in the last seven days there’s been 95cm of new snow in Zauchensee and the Zugspitzplatt Ehrwald reported 75cm. The country’s resorts issued poweder alrms on Friday, Monday and yesterday (Tuesday 25th) when Saalbach reported 25cm of new snow. The country’s biggest snow depths are reported with 219-260cm in Sölden , Pitztal and Mölltal. St. Anton has 195cm of snow on upper slopes. The popular resort has 85 ski lifts and 280km of slopes open. More snowfall is predicted for the next few days, especially in Kitzbühel and Salzkammer and indeed there’s lots of snow in Austria again today (26 January) with 15 Powderalarms by 9am including Kitzbühel (25cm), Innsbruck (30cm), Tannheim (20cm) and Zell am See (20cm).
Unfortunately there’s been very little change in France where only the Pyrenees and the Vosges regions can boast of having received some snowfall during the last week (on Friday and Saturday in the Pyrenees and yesterday in the Vosges). Only two weeks before the start of the winter holidays, ski resorts are still faced with a rather low snowfall and all are waiting future snowy disturbances. Falls have been 10 to 15cm on average, but as much as 30 to 50cm at Formiguères and Peyragudes in the Pyrenees. Sadly little new snow is forecast for the next few weeks. The snowiest ski resorts are always those located above 1800m altitude in both the Northern Alps such as La Rosière: 210cm, Alpe d'Huez: 195cm, Flaine: 190cm and Chamonix: 180cm and in the Southern Alps Isola 2000: 194cm, Les Orres:180cm and Orcières 1850:180cm.
Italy still has some of the best snow cover in Europe with Passo Tonale claiming the continent’s deepest snow on its glacier with 4.5m (15 feet). There’s been fresh snow around the country in the past week with Abetone in the Apennines reporting 50cm and Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley claiming a small coup when the Chamonix leg of the Freeride World Tour had to be moved to their Italian side of Moint Blanc at the weekend to find the best powder. Accumulations in the Dolomites and Alps have been smaller than in the Apennines, typically 10-20cm.
Switzerland received fresh snow at the end of last week with 14 powder alarms on the day with resorts reporting 20cm or more of new snow in the previous 24 hours. Some resorts have reported snowfall between 40cm and 64cm during the last week including Meiringen and Engelberg. Engelberg has the most snow in the country with 320cm (nearly 11 feet) of snow cover, Andermatt follows with 220cm and Lenzerheide has 216cm.
The Pyrenees have seen an improvement in snow conditions in the past week with one resort on the French side of the southern European mountains claiming a metre of new snow in the past week. In Andorra falls at the weekend were in the 15-20cm range, greatly improving conditions and taking average slope depths to 70-100cm.
Snowfall has slowed in Scandinavia this week with the biggest accumulation down to 35cm (just over a foot). Narvik in the north reports 20cm. Here’s a list of all snow depths in Norway.
Snowfall in Canada has slowed a little in the past week but conditions remain superb in Alberta after the big falls in mid-January and British Columbian ski areas seeing the most of the new snow of the past week with Revelstoke, the area with North America’s biggest lift-served vertical getting the most with 44cm while Sun Peaks had 30cm fresh snow.
The US continues to enjoy an excellent season on both East and West coasts. Although Mammoth still leads the world for snow depth with more than 5.4m (17 feet) lying following the huge storms at the end of last year. In the past week Colorado has stolen the thunder though as consistent winter storms have brought incredible powder to skiers and snowboarders. Vail has received more than a metre of snow in the past week and reports more than 6.8 metres of snow has fallen at mid-mountain this season to date. So far this is the fourth best season-to-date snowfall in Vail’s history (records exist back to the 1963-1964 season) and snowfall this season to date is at more than 50 percent - or nearly 2.5 metres - above Vail’s 47 year average at the top of the mountain and more than double what it was at this time last year at mid-mountain.

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