There’s a mixture of snow news and cold front news as temperatures dip to -10C in the Pyrenees and -20C in parts of the Alps this week. That’s fairly tame however compared to the January temperatures recorded in Alaska, the coldest ever in parts of the state, with a low of -73F at Arctic village in the north, which is saying something considering how cold it usually is anyway.
The southern Alps and Pyrenees have had a particularly good week for snowfall notching up up to 1.3m so far, and it’s on going.
In North America Western Canadian resorts are beginning to talk about a potential record snowfall winter with some already past 90% of their average seasonal snowfall totals. In the USA conditions are better than they were in the states that had been suffering from lack of snow, but the rate of recovery from fresh snow last week seems to have slowed again this.
There have been more snowfalls in Austria over the past week, if not on the huge wscale of early January, with the biggest reported at Dachstein West with 40 cm, Tauplitzalm with 30 cm and Fügen with 25 cm. Currently a very cold front determinates conditions at the slopes and temperatures around minus 20 are expected in the next days although snow is expected to return by the weekend. The best deepest snow depth is at St Anton which has a 490cm base. Other areas with bases now more than four metres include Zugspitzplatt Ehrwald, Lermoos, Sonnenkopf, Tauplitzalm and Loser .
There’s been yet more snowfall in France from the Jura to the Pyrenees through the Massif Central and the Alps. The especially good news is that lower altitude and southerly regions that had not had so much snow in January have had good falls too this time. The Pyrenees did especially well with up to 95cm falling at some resorts so far. The heavy snowfall in the Southern Alps was important for two reasons. First the quantity – for example 55 cm of fresh snow fell in 48 hours on the Val d'Allos on Monday and Tuesday and secondly because these falls have finally covered the whole of the Southern Alps and in particular the Alpes Maritimes and Alpes de Haute Provence where ski resorts offered a far less snow than their counterparts in the Hautes-Alpes.
The Northern Alps, which have already seen record snowfalls in January, have continued to do well with 10 Powder Alarms issued on Tuesday for 20cm+ falls by ski resorts in Haute Savoie (30cm in Combloux, 20 cm in Les Houches ...) and Isère (20cm at Les 2 Alpes).
Resorts in Italy have been topping the snowfall league in Europe with Limone in the country’s south west reporting the most snow on the continent with 130cm (4.3 inches) and the 2006 Olympic resorts of Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere and others not far behind with a metre of fresh snow in the past week.
It’s been another snowy week in Switzerland and over the last seven days Gstaad had the most new snow with 80 cm. There have been good falls as well in Lötschental with 70 cm and Frutigen with 65 cm. 10 resorts reported 20 to 25 cm snowfall on Tuesday and a few centimetres of more are expected for the next few days. The cold front stops in Switzerland as well with temperatures up to minus 20 degrees and it’s expected to be a cold but sunny weekend. Best snow depth is still in Engelberg with 470cm, followed by Crans Montana 430cm, Laax 418cm and Gstaad Glacier 3000 with 400cm.
The Pyrenees have been the snowiest area of Europe over the past few days with up to a metre of snow falling on the French, Andorran and Spanish sides of the border. On the Spanish side Baqueira Beret claimed 1.1m (nearly four feet, picture attached) and on the French side there was 95cm at La Mongie and the snowfall has continued without interruption since Sunday. Good news as the region had hasd little fresh snow through January until now.
Conditions remain good at most Scandinavian resorts with Røldal in Norway still boasting the deepest snow in the region as it has for two months now with 3.3m (11 feet) lying. Coastal Voss has nearly three metres.
Still mixed conditions in Scotland with all five centres having between a quarter and three quarters of their terrain open – usually higher, flatter runs. Conditions have been calm in most cases since the weekend with blue skies and cold temperatures maintaining snow cover and making skiing and boarding pleasant, but more fresh snow would be welcome.
As parts of North America still battle for good snow cover, some resorts in Alberta and BC in Canada look set to break records for snowfall tallys by the end of their long season in May. Heavy snowfall has continued this week at most resorts in the region. With over three months left to go in the ski season, Marmot Basin near Jasper had already received over 12 feet (372 cm) of snowfall which is 93% of its annual average. If the next three months produce typical amounts of snowfall, Marmot Basin will exceed its all time snowfall record of 529 cm set way back in 1965. "There is very little snow on the ground in one of our closest big cities Edmonton and when some people get to the mountain they are really surprised at how much snow we have" says Brian Rode, Marmot’s VP of marketing. "Marmot’s base elevation is very high so the rain that has fallen at lower elevations this winter has been all snow at Marmot". Eastern Canadian resorts also had good news this week with 20-30cm accumulations on Sunday alone reported by Mont Ste Anne and Le Massif.
There have been smaller accumulations in Western USA after the big falls a week ago in California, Colorado and Utah. The deepest snow is still in the north west of the continent in Washington State, Idaho, Alaska and Wyoming. Breckenridge in Colorado has opened all 31 of its lifts for the first time this season today (Feb 1) after more fresh snow in Colorado allowed them to open more terrain. "The Breckenridge Ski Patrol has worked extremely hard and been very diligent to open up our terrain as soon as we feel it is safe to do so", said the Breckenridge Ski Patrol Director. "Getting the Imperial Express Super Chair open is key for us to get the rest of our alpine terrain open for our guests".
On the East Coast it has not really been a historic snowfall winter so far but resorts continue to make the most of what mother nature is offering. In New Hampshire the past three weeks have seen a repetitive storm cycle swing in to the Mount Washington Valley and Pinkham Notch.
"Despite a weary eye on warm temps and rain occasionally, we do keep getting snow weekly. And at this time, the weekly storm cycle deposited another 6” of mostly snow and then a sleet that still accumulated in to the afternoon", said a statement from Attitash Mountain Resort.