Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Snow Still Falling As Spring Approaches

With the start of spring less than a week away, most of the world’s leading ski areas have been reporting more snow.
In Europe the southern Alps and Pyrenees have done particularly well, with many resorts reporting up to 30cm of new snow in the past few days. More heavy snow has been reported in the Dolomites, Alps and Pyrenees this morning (Wednesday).
However the biggest falls of the week are once again over in North America with Whistler reporting 1.4m (over four feet) of new snow as it approaches its Spring season which will stay it remain open longer than any other Canadian resort. However Mount Washington on Vancouver Island has accumulated still more and is back in the position it held a year ago as having the deepest snow base in the world, overtaking the unlikely front runner of the past month, Europe’s most southerly resort of Sierra Nevada, which has claimed to have been sitting on a six metre base for over a month. It did report another 30cm, at the weekend though.
Although temperatures at the southern end of the UK hit +17C yesterday, in northern Scotland there has been five days of snow showers, most heavy over the weekend, with the country’s ski centres adding up to 50cm to their base depths.
Not much new snow has been reported in Austria with the biggest accumulation 20cm in the last seven days at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl while Solden got 15cm and Katschberg and Nassfeld Hermagor 10cm. The biggest snow fall of the week was on Monday with three resorts over 10cm and further snow falls are expected in the next ten days or so as ski resorts hope to get fresh falls soon. On the higher slopes snow falls are possible over 1200 metres at the weekend and six resorts still have snow depths of more than two metres.
Winter is back in parts of France with weekend snowfall although most of it only in the Southern Alps and the Pyrenees. On Saturday there was up to 35 cm in the Pyrenees (at Gavarnie / Gèdre) and then on Sunday it was the turn of the Southern Alps to enjoy the snow with 35cm at the top of Serre-Chevalier ski area and even 45cm in Auron. More snow fell on Monday and Tuesday and today (Wednesday) the snow is still falling over the Pyrenees and the Alps but to a lesser intensity. The weather should still remained changable tomorrow and then gradually improve as we approach the weekend. The school holiday period is now over in France and some smaller resorts have already closed their ski areas (Orange, Passy, Hautacam ...) but 85% of the ski resorts will remain open for several weeks. Currently the Southern Alps have the country’s best snow depths (up to 234cm in Isola 2000, 210cm in Abriès, 205cm in Auron) followed by the Pyrenees (200cm in Cauterets, 175cm in Gavarnie) and the Northern Alps (210cm in Flaine, 195cm in Alpe d'Huez).
There has been heavy snowfall across northern Italy in recent days. On the western side Limone reported 60cm (two feet) of new snow on Sunday morning and Arabba in the Dolomites and resorts over on the Slovenia border in the east reported similar falls too.
Switzerland had a few snow falls on Sunday, the biggest reported by Saas Fee with 15cm while other resorts like St. Moritz and Andermatt had 3 cm – 10 cm during the last week. It is getting quite warm in the southern Swiss Alps based on the foehn coming up the next days. Because of the cold nights, most slopes in higher reaches are still in a good shape however. Engelberg still has the country’s greatest snow depth with 340cm (11.3 feet), followed by Saas Fee with 241cm (eight feet).
Most resorts in Spain and Andorra reported 20-30cm of snow over Sunday and Monday. Cerler reported 30cm as did Europe’s most southerly resort, Sierra Nevada, which claims the deepest snowbase in Europe at six metres (20 feet). After a nice carnival with a lot of sunny days, Formigal Resort also received new clients and fresh snow at the weekend. The snowfall started on Saturday night and by Sunday morning they had already received 40cm of snow.
Conditions remain good in Norway with Voss and Jolster among those issuing powder alarms for falls of up to 30cm in recent days. The last big snowfall across the country was on Monday when most resorts received between 5 and 20cm of snow.
Western Canada has seen the world’s heaviest snowfall over the past week with Whisstler and Mount Washington reporting around 1.5m of new snow in the past seven days. In addition the world-famous Delirium Dive opened at Sunshine ski area near Banff yesterday. Named one of the 'Top 10 Off-Piste Runs in the World' by the Sydney Morning Herald, the Dive attracts expert skiers and snowboarders from across the world. The extreme freeride area offers 600 acres of terrain and 2,000 feet of vertical for those with the ability, and guts, to take it on. The three resorts have had record-breaking snowfall this season and skiers and snowboarders are being treated to excellent conditions. Mt. Norquay has extended their season and The Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village will continue well into May.
Conditions remain good across the US with heavy snowfall once again, particularly in the West of the country. Resorts around Lake Tahoe issued powder alarms at the weekend for falls of up to 35cm (14 inches) . Mt Baker in Washington state, famed as averaging the deepest snow in the world, has increased its base to 6.6m (22 feet), second only to Mt Washington on Vancouver island a little to the north.

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