Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Increasingly High Temperatures In Europe, Still Snowy But Areas Closing en Masse For Season In North America

As lower elevation ski areas in the Alps and many major resorts in North America approach their final few days of winter 2010-11, the snow is still falling in many areas. The Alps have had rather a good week with some healthy snowfalls but it is also getting ever warmer meaning conditions are often getting sticky quite soon each day, particularly on lower runs. Temperatures are expected to hit 20C in some places by the end of the week. The biggest snowfall figures of the week have again come from North America where, ironically, some of the resorts that have reported the biggest falls will actually close this weekend. The heaviest falls have moved a littler East from the coast to Colorado and the Alberta/BC border. There have been good snow falls for Austria in the last week. Several resorts got up to 25cm snow, including Sölden (25cm), Zugspitzplatt (20cm) and Pitztal (15cm). Weißsee and Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn received 20-25cm new snow during a 24 hour period earlier this week and Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn now has a snowbase from 210cm. Most popular resorts are still open. Weather forecast reports warm temperatures in the next two days. There will probably be no new snow until the weekend but best ‘firn conditions’ for skiers and boarders. The Mölltaler Glacier now has the deepest snow depth of the country with 310cm. There’s been little new snow in France with Chamonix reporting the biggest new accumulation of 10cm, La Plagne had 5cm. Most of the country’s top resorts still have 1.8-2m of snow on upper slopes but in an increasing number of cases the valley runs are closed, or nearly-so wioth cover at or near zero. No new snow has been reported in Italy in the past week and temperatures are warm. But more than a dozen areas including Bormio, Livigno and Madesimo have a snow depth of more than two metres and the Presena Glacier, which will probably be open to June, one of the deepest accumulations in Europe with 5.5m (over 18 feet). Snow falls of up to 30cm have been reported in Switzerland during the last seven days. Veysonnaz, Thyon-Les-Collons and Nedaz got 30cm each. Verbier and Saas Fee followed with 20cm. Many other resorts got new snow between 10cm and 19cm. Switzerland still has six resorts with a snow depth over two metres with Engelberg the clear leader with 360cm. Temperatures will be rising up to 20 degrees in the next few days, but skiing in upper slopes is still fun. There’s been no new snow reported in the Pyrenees but snow accumulated earlier in the season is generally keeping base depths up to 30/60cm on lower slopes in Andorra and still above 1.5m on upper runs. It has been very warm (as well as very windy and rainy) in Scotland too and although there have been ‘snow flurries’ on the mountain tops when it has been raining below in recent days, only Cairngorm now currently has enough snow cover to open its upper runs. Scandinavia really comes in to its own in April and beyond as the northerly latitude helps to keep the snow in great shape for big late-April and early-May events in resorts like Are in Sweden. It’s still snowing too, Voss reported 25cm of new snow this week. Fernie in Canada currently tops the world snowfall chart for the past seven days, with more than three feet accumulated but many other resorts are looking snowy too. Big White, Revelstoke and Sun Peaks all received 60cm/2 feet plus for example. Although most Canadian resorts will close this week or next, Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler (picture attached) are all open in to May. Although many ski areas there are closing this weekend or next, the US has again dominated snowfall totals this week. Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Washington State resorts have taken the thunder of California at last and reported 2-4 feet (60-120cm) of new snow at many resorts, but on the East Coast too, where Killington in Vermont announced it will open in to May, some resorts like Sugarloaf and wildcat have reported up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow.

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