Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fresh Snow News - A Quiet Snow Week For The Start of 2011

The best way to describe the snow news of the past week is ‘quiet’ ! In most places cover remains good, and temperatures low, but there has been little fresh snowfall. On the upside this means that the avalanche risk in the Alps is down to its lowest this winter in most places 1 or 2, but then off piste skiing isn’t great in most areas.
The biggest snowfalls of the past seven days continue to be in Western North America where accumulations of up to 1.2m (four feet) have been reported in Colorado. In Europe the biggest falls have been in Norway where up to 1.15m has fallen.
As with the rest of the Alps there have been no big snowfalls reported from Austria in recent days. However, the snow coverage is generally good and some glacier ski areas even have snow depths of two meters and more. The biggest snow cover can be found on the Mölltal glacier: 240cm. The Pitztal glacier which is not far behind (219cm) and it got the most new snow in the country the last 7 days (27 cm). Many other ski resorts had some fresh powder on Sunday/Monday when 10cm was reported in Dachstein West, Silvretta Montafon and Loser .
There’s been little fresh snow in France for more than a week and although most resorts are fully open with snow depths of up to two metres (seven feet), the pistes are hard packed and icy in places so predicted fresh snow later this week will be welcomed.
As with the rest of mainland Europe there has been very little new snow in Italy in the past week. The Presena Glacier continues to have the deepest snow base in Europe at 4.5m (15 feet).
In Switzerland there has not been much snowfall last week. Luckily, this also means the avalanche danger has lowered to level 1-2 (just like in Austria). The beginning of the week brought some new snow (5 cm) in Davos, Sedrun and the Appenzellerland. The biggest snow accumulations in Switzerland are reported in Engelberg (235cm), Saas Fee (216cm) and Andermatt Gotthard (200 cm).
The snow cover in Andorra could definitely do with a top up as there’s been little fresh snow for several weeks and on lower slopes it’s looking thin. Thing are better in southern Spain with Sierra Nevada (picture attached) getting 50cm of snow this week – it now reports a snowbase of four metres putting it in the top 10 snowiest places on earth.
All five ski areas in Scotland remain open, each with top-to-bottom snow cover and more snow expected over the coming week.
In Norway ski resorts have seen by far the most snow in Europe of the past week with Bjorli reporting 115cm (Nearly four feet) of new snow. The nearest snowfall is Sierra Nevada’s 50cm in Spain.
Conditions are largely good across Canada with low temperatures but no fresh snow in the East and more fresh flurries topping up increasingly deep bases out west. They’re happy in Whistler for example which has a 2.1m (seven foot) base at present. Here’s a list of all snow depths in Canada.
Conditions remain good on both East and West coast of the US too with cold weather in the East maintaining cover and more heavy snow reported in many resorts out west, including 90cm (three feet) in the past week for Alaska’s Alyeska. Donner Ski Ranch has over taken Californian neighbour Mammoth to have world’s deepest snowpack, with 569cm (19 feet). Five of the 10 snowiest places on earth at present are in California.

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