Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Still Dumping In Western North America, Snowing Again In The Alps

Hundreds of resorts have been closing for the season on both sides of the Atlantic but with conditions very different in North America to Europe.
The Alps have had very warm weather in recent days, although it is getting cooler again now and up to 50cm of snow has fallen on the Austrian, Swiss and German Alps in the past 24 hours. But with temperatures well in to double figures at 2000m at the weekend many lower ski areas have been struggling to stay open or to provide decent conditions if they do.
Over in North America there have been still more big snowfalls with whistler receiving 30cm (a foot) in 24 hours and resorts in Utah reporting up to 1.4m (nearly five feet) of snow in the past week. An increasing number have announced they’re staying open to May, June and even July and that winter 2010-11 has brought them the most ever snowfall.
Only four resorts are still open in Germany but these resorts have good snow. Skiers will find 220cm at the Zugspitze, the highest peak of the country and 110cm in Oberstdorf in Southern Germany. In the next 48 hours, snow is expected on higher slopes during the night.
It was a warm week in Austria with nearly no snow until yesterday, April 12, but it is getting colder and snowfalls are possible over night. Pitztal got 5cm of snow last week but no other ski resort reported any snow. In the upcoming weeks the country’s glaciers are the best address to get definitely snow. Many resorts still have a snow depth of at least 80cm, which is enough for skiing and the glaciers all have a snow cover over 150cm (five feet). The Molltal glacier has the best snow depth with 310cm (over 10 feet). Today Skiinfo have issued several powder alarms for falls of 20cm or more in 24 hours. In the next two days the chance of new snow (today is quite high - it is getting colder and the snow line gets down to 500m. But for skiing in lower regions the advice is to take a look into a webcam and check snow conditions before you start your journey.
A warm week in France too with only La Plagne and Chamonix reporting fresh snow – about 5cm each, at the end of last week. The deepest snow depth at the tops of the mountains is now down to 1.8m (six feet) but even glacier resorts like Alpe d’Huez are reporting no snow left at resort level .
Italy is another country to have seen warm weather and little or no snowfall in the past week. The deepest snow remains on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale, but that has dropped to a mere 3.6m (12 feet) at the top. Probably still enough to ski on though!
There had been no new snow in Switzerland in the last seven days until Wednesday 13th. Temperatures where unusual ly high. Fortunately the country has lots of very high positioned ski resorts where the snow stays for a long time, even if temperatures in the valley are getting higher and higher. There are still eight resorts with a snow depth over 180cm (six feet). Engelberg is on first position with 350cm (nearly 12 feet), Saas Fee, Andermatt, Gstaad and Laax follows with still open ski lifts and white slopes. Thursday and Friday the snow line sinks down to 1300m at the northern Alps and in the region Wallis and it is snowing already on Wednesday 13th with Gstaad among several resorts reporting 30cm of new snow today.
Ski areas in the Pyrenees are winding down for the season although most are open to Easter Sunday weekend or later. Formigal (Spain) commented, "This season was very poor in snowfalls for all but in Formigal we were lucky and we were able to open a great number of slopes, which had better snow conditions than the ones in the other European resorts". Vallnord in Andorra currently has nice sunny weather but temperatures are 3 – 15 C and about two thirds of terrain is open. Grandvalira report snow depths of 20-80cm.
In Scotland it’s looking like the end of the season after very warm temperatures at the weekend followed strong winds and rain last week which has annihilated most of the snow pack. Four centres have closed for the season but Cairngorm remains open at the top with beginner skiing up by the restaurant and an intermediate and above trail down to the funicular mid-station. Cold temperatures overnight has brought fresh snow over the past few days but its not clear if the slopes will still be skiable for Easter.
There’s still good ski conditions at most of the still-open Scandinavian resorts. Norway’s three glacier summer ski areas are gearing up for their 2011 season and resorts like Hemsedal as well as Are in Sweden have big weekends coming up at the start of May, while Riksgransen will again offer skiing and boarding under the midnight sun. Narvik on the Norwegian coast was one of the few resorts in Europe to post a Powderalarm this week when it received 20cm of snow in 24 hours on Sunday.
Resorts are closing across Canada but it’s still snowing with plenty of fresh powder at those still open including Fernie – which reports more than 35 feet (12 metres) of snow this winter and Nakiska which has had more than 60cm (two feet) of new snow in the past week. Whistler posted a powder alarm on Monday with 28cm of new snow.
More than half of US resorts are now closed but California continues to set snowfall record with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California reporting it has received 606 inches (over 15 metres) of snow this winter, more than ever before, and it is currently lying more than six metres (20 feet) deep. Mammoth currently has one of the highest recorded base depths of any ski resort in the world. Like Squaw Valley to the north, this is the most the resort has ever measured as receiving in one season and like Squaw, which recently announced it will be open on weekends through May, Mammoth has extended its season. However it will be open daily and right through to July 4th. Mammoth is no stranger to skiing through Independence Day; the resort has remained open for skiing until July Fourth four out of the last seven seasons. However in the past week it’s resorts in Utah that have reported the most snow – up to 1.5m.
In the southern hemisphere conditions are continuing to ‘pick up’ ahead of the 2011 ski season likely to start in about two months time in June. In New Zealand Mt Ruapehu is turning increasingly white after repeated snowfalls while in Australia Mount Hotham was covered by a blanket of snow on this morning and the temperature is below freezing.

Sun and Snow in St. Anton:

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