Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snowfall Slow In Cold Alps But Heavy In The South

Most of Europe has been shivering in sub-zero temperatures which have kept slopes in the Alps in great condition but frozen out much fresh snowfall in most places, not that many resorts need more at this stage after the huge December and January falls.
The most noticeable aspect of the past week has been very low temperatures – typically in the -10C - -20C range in the northern Alps, although St Moritz reported an overnight low of -33C on Monday morning.
In Southern and Eastern Europe there have been big falls however and indeed, unusually, it is a resort in southern Italy that has racked up the most snowfall over the past seven days for any resort in Europe or North America – with 1.8m. The mainstream media has also been showing snow in unusual locations like the Colleseum in Rome, and the extreme cold and heavy snow has been causing major health and safety issues in several Eastern European countries. In ther south west there’s been more heavy snow in the Pyrenees.
To the north of Europe the first significant snowfalls have been reported in Belgium and there was a few centimetres in the UK
Over in North America there has been less fresh snowfall too although most resorts have had a few inches and Colorado has had quite a good week, in places at least with some resorts reporting three feet of new snow, although others nearer six inches.
It has been snowing again in Austria after a couple of days with sun, blue sky and minus 20 degrees with nearly no snowfall. Seven resorts reports more than 20cm of snowfall including Obertauern and Schladming. This snowfall has now lessened and it’s sunny again at present.
There is still a lot snow at the slopes in most resorts in Austria with 480cm snow at the Dachstein Glacier and St Anton at Arlberg and 440cm at Lermoos.
As throughout Europe, a dry cold has settled over France for about a week and no major changes are expected, probably until next Tuesday. All the eastern mountain areas (Vosges, Jura, Massif Central and Alps) report every morning polar temperatures (-17 to -24°c) and with this cold, no hope of any new snow. However in the south the French Pyrenees have been seeing heavy snowfall all week.
Italy has seen some of the largest snowfalls in the world in the past seven days with Roccaraso – Rivisondoli topping the snowfall league with 1.9m (over six feet) since this time last week. In the dolomites to the both there have been healthy falls averaging 40cm too.
In Switzerland conditions are great at the moment and the next few days will remain sunny and cold. In some areas like Appenzellerland and Airolo fresh snow came down on Tuesday. In Engelberg you still can find the best snow depth with 470cm followed by Gstaad Mountain Rides with 400 m and Crans Montana with 390cm. Ski resorts like Saas Fee with 342cm snow and nearby Zermatt are also in very good in shape but temperatures are around minus 17 degrees and the sky is sunny.
The Pyrenees has been spared the cold snap further north and has been receiving significant new snowfall daily all week. With daily falls from 10 to 20cm, the calculation can be done quickly: about a metre of fresh snow accumulated over the past week in. In France the tallys include 130cm at La Mongie, 110cm at Nistos, 105cm at Artouste and 95cm in Luz Ardiden. There have been similar falls in Andorra and Spain with Skiinfo powder alarms for 30cm or more in 24 hours yesterday (Tuesday 7 February) at Baqueira Beret and Formigal.
Conditions are good across Scandinavia with plenty of fresh snow falling over the past week at many resorts. Voss in Norway reported the biggest accumulation – of 98cm – over three feet.
In Scotland the snowfalls and blizzards of the last few days have freshened up the good base provided everywhere by the earlier snow, and have transformed the runs at Glenshee in eastern Scotland, where there had been less snow than at Glencoe and Nevis Range in the west.
The long period of freezing, dry weather in the east also allowed both Glenshee and The Lecht to use their snow cannons to make considerable amounts of artificial snow and CairnGorm to trial theirs extensively.
The snowy deluge that has been falling on Western Canada since mid-November appears to have finally taken a break this past week and for the first time this winter resorts in the East of the country have reported more snow in the past seven days then resorts on the west. That’s not a problem for the western resorts of course as they’re sitting on huge bases.
Mont Sainte Anne and Mont Sutton in the Quebec have some of the biggest falls with 15cm (six inches) in the past week.
It has been a typical 2011-12 season snow week in the USA as for much of the past two months with most of the snow falling to the south and north of the country with the best known resorts in the middle not getting so much, again. That said some resorts in Colorado did receive up to 90cm (three feet) of new snow since last Wednesday with Telluride, clocking up two feet (60cm), half of it yesterday (Tuesday 7 February). Other big name resorts had rather less – Snowmass 26cm and Breckenridge 16cm. There were similar moderate falls at Utah resorts. The biggest accumulations were again in the north west of the country in Alaska (201cm for Alyeska – nearly seven more feet) and down in the south in New Mexico (52cm at Taos). Mt Baker in Washington State is up at its usual ‘most snow accumulated in the world’ mark with 4.8m (16 feet) lying. Not much new on the East Coast though – just 3cm (an inch) for Killington where just over half the terrain is open with deepest snow depth 90cm (three feet).

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