Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snowfall Slows In The Alps and The Pyrenees

The big story of the past week has been a second week of very low temperatures in Europe, a period which is just coming to an end with warmer temperatures coming in off the Atlantic to the West. The cold weather has meant it has been too cold for much snow to fall anywhere.In fact with snowfall in North America fairly muted still there have been very few big accumulations of snow anywhere in the world over the past week, the smallest falls for two months. Italian resorts have fared best with some 60-90cm (2-3 feet) accumulations.
Austria’s ski slopes are all in a great shape with the low temperatures and some small snowfalls from time to time. The snowfall has calmed down during the last week in Austrian ski resorts. In recent days the most snowfall has been reported in Salzstiegel with 40cm. There’s been 32cm at Innsbruck’s Nordkettenbahnen over the past week and 25cm at Feuerkogel. The most snow came down on Valentine’s Day-Tuesday, with three resorts reporting a powder alarm for more than 20 cm new snow, including Diedamskopf (30 cm), Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen (30 cm) and Damüls (20 cm). The best snow depths can be found with 470 cm at Dachstein Glacier and St Anton.
With very cold weather predominant in France over the past week there has been little fresh snow, with the biggest falls of 40cm over the past seven days coming at small resorts in the south of the country and in the Pyrenees. There has been some fresh snow though to freshen up the slopes which in most cases have deep bases built up over the previous two months. Avoriaz reports 10cm (today – Wednesday 15 February), La Rosiere 5cm for example. The deepest snow in the country is in the Chamonix Valley with 4.3m (12.3 feet).
Resorts in Italy have posted the most snowfall in the past 7 days of any country in the world. The little area of Monte Amiata was the only one to report more than a metre of new snow anywhere in the world this week, with 165cm (5.5 feet). Some of the larger resorts in the dolomites have had impressive snowfalls – 60cm (two feet) for Arabba and 45cm (18 inches) at neighbouring Alta Badia. Here are all snow depths in Italy.
There are excellent ski conditions across Switzerland at the moment with small falls of snow most days keeping the pistes fresh. That means slopes can be well groomed each day. The biggest falls of the past week were only 45cm and 40cm in total at Degersheim and Ebenalp/Appenzellerland. Engelberg still haws the deepest snow depth of 476cm, followed by Champex-Lac, and also Laax, both with 380 cm.
The Pyrenees have continued to have some good snowfalls over the past week with Spain’s Baqueira Beret (picture attached) coming out top with another 30cm accumulation overnight on Tuesday. It now has a snow base of 2.5m, not far behind Cauterets on the French side which has the deepest snow in the region at 3m (10 feet).
With little fresh snow in the Alps, the new snow falling in Scandinavia, particularly in the past 48 hours, has made it one of the snowiest regions in Europe at present. Are (Sweden), the region’s biggest resort, is the only one in the world to issue Powder alarms for 20cm+ falls for two successive days. Norwegian resorts have the deepest snow in the area however with Røldal the deepest at 385cm (13 feet).
Although England was gripped by sub-zero temperatures last week, in an unusual contrast Scotland was not, and temperature were up to 20 degrees higher than the -15C reported in South Eastern Britain. This has had some affect on snow cover at the five Scottish ski areas with The Lecht particularly hard hit with only very limited terrain open. The other four areas have between 25 and 50% of their terrain open.
Canada remains buried deep in snow but the cold temperatures of January have eased to make the experience of skiing or boarding it all ever more pleasurable. "Warm ski temperatures and impeccable grooming have made for great cruising from top to bottom on all mountain faces while soft snow awaits in the 15 gladed areas around the mountain", said a statement from Revelstoke in BC. "Additional top-ups of snow over the last few days (11cm in 48hrs and 17cm in the last 7 days) over a deep base of 208cm has enhanced the soft snow surface and groomed conditions". The deepest snow in the country is in BC with Powder king deepest with 401cm, however Mont Sainte Anne over in Quebec is not far behind with 368cm.
There have been some significant snowfalls in the USA over the past week, good news with a holiday weekend for Presidents Day in the country. Resorts in California, which has had a particularly challenging winter with snowfall typically a third of the average rate in contrast to the previous record breaking winter, have reported healthy accumulations of up to 25cm (10 inches). Resorts say conditions are now great. The deepest snow in the country is still in the NorthWest with Mt Baker in Alaska living up to its title of the world’s snowiest resort with 478cm (16 feet) of snow lying), 2cm (less than an inch) more than its closest rival (Engelberg in Switzerland with 476cm). Eaglecrest in Alaska is second with 401cm (13.3 feet).

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