Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fresh Snow News - The Snow Returns Across Northern Hemisphere

After a quiet start to 2011, the past 72 hours has seen significant snowfall in the Western Alps, Pyrenees and on both sides of North America, freshening up cover on slopes around the world. Scandinavia continues to see some of the biggest snowfalls with the greatest accumulations of 1.2m (four feet) over the past week. Scotland too is looking good with all five areas open with generally excellent conditions (think fresh snow, blue skies, no queues, no wind and temps just a pleasant few degrees below zero on Tuesday this week). Nevis Range reported 25cm (10 inches of new snow on Monday.
The French Alps had an odd period at the end of last week when a thaw set in below 2000m and rain fell – feeling much more like early April than early January, but fortunately fresh snow arrived with lower temperatures at the start of this week and dozens of top French areas reported 20-30cm of fresh snow and a return to winter.
While rainy weather continues to diminish the snow cover in a number of Austrian ski resorts, other areas report new snow. On Monday 10-15 cm of fresh snow fell in some Carinthian resorts like Großglockner/Heiligenblut. St. Anton and the Kleinwalsertal reported smaller snowfalls of 5 cm. The best snow covers in Austria can still be found on the glaciers. The Mölltal glacier is on top of the list with a snow depth of 240cm – all the ski slopes are open there. In Sölden 147km of skiable terrain are open at the moment with up to a 190cm of snow on the mountain.
It’s not been the best seven days of January weather in France as an unusual warm snap at the end of last week brought a thaw below 2000m and rain at lower elevations. Things improved dramatically from Sunday when a cold front hit the area a bringing snow with it, the most at La Clusaz which issued two successive powder alarms for daily 20cm, falls and had the most new snow of the week overall with 48cm of new cover. It’s snowing again this morning with Val Thorens, Europe’s highest resort, reporting 20cm new snow today and Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz’s neighbour, also getting another 20cm of new snow.
Italy continues to be one of Europe’s snowiest country. Arabba in the Dolomites received the third most snow of anywhere in the world in the past seven days with 1.4m of new snow. The Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale continues to be the continent’s snowiest with a 4.5m (15 foot) snow depth on upper slopes. Here are all snow depths in Italy.
In Switzerland the weekend brought fresh powder in the Engadin. On Tuesday another snowfall of 15 cm was reported from St Moritz, Corvatsch and Pontresina bringing the snow depths in these resorts to about 170 cm. Sara Roloff of Engadin St. Moritz Tourism Organisation is very satisfied with the current skiing possibilities: "Thanks to 30 cm of new snow the slope conditions are sensational!”, she says. “All the valley runs are open". In Gstaad which also reported snowfall on Tuesday (10 cm) the snow cover is even bigger: Two metres were measured at the top station this morning (Tuesday). Disentis, Laax and Adelboden reported some snowfall on Monday (5 cm). The biggest snow cover in the country is reported from Engelberg (230 cm).
Scandinavian ski areas have had another good week with 6 of the 10 biggest snowfalls of the past week worldwide recorded in Norway. Coastal Voss has done particularly well with powder alarms every day this week and the area’s two centres are both among the planet’s five snowiest with 125-135cm of new snow in the past week each.
In Canada, ski areas in the Alberta Rockies and on the country’s East And West coasts have reported fresh snowfall. At Jasper, the storm that blew into much of Alberta over the past few days delivered a late Christmas present to skiers and snowboarders by depositing almost 40 cm of fresh snow on the slopes of Marmot Basin (picture attached). Skiing and snowboarding conditions are now described as being "about as good as they ever get", according to Marmot’s VP of Marketing, Brian Rode. All of Marmot’s main runs are now fully open including the double black diamond runs in the Eagle East area, a region of the ski area known for its steep upper bowls and expert tree runs. "This is what we have all been waiting for. A big dump of snow so we can break out the fat skis and get in some top to bottom, knee deep powder runs", said Rode.
Conditions continue to be good in most US ski areas with Steamboat, Colorado, taking the title for most snow in the past seven days with another 85cm (nearly three feet) On the East coast another "major winter weather event" has been underway in recent day. At Belleayre in New York State it has been snowing for nearly a week straight and the resort reports the mountain is reported to be in excellent shape. It’s a similar story at the region’s other areas.

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