Many more leading ski resorts have been opening on both sides of the Atlantic over the past seven days with the start of winter 2012-13 continuing to gain momentum.
Generally the snow news is good with average or good cover for the time of year in most areas. Although there’s been little new snow in the Alps there’s also still good cover at higher altitudes in most areas thanks to early-November falls. It’s a similar picture in the Dolomites and in much of Western North America. The Pyrenees have had a good covering of snow at last and the top resorts there have announced they’ll open this weekend. However the first delayed openings have been announced by several leading Austrian resorts.
North America continues to see the biggest snowfalls – Whistler received more than a metre of snow last week and is expecting to see another metre or so accumulate over the coming week.
See our "where is the snow" gallery.
The highest resort in the Alps, Val Thorens reported a successful opening weekend with 20-60cm of snow (lower/upper slopes), joining Tignes (5-70cm) and Montgenevre (30-60cm) to become the third area to open in France. More resorts will be opening from this weekend including Chamonix and Les 2 Alpes.
Higher slopes in the French Alps are expecting substantial snowfalls over the next few days, with Tignes expecting a remarkable 90cm over the next three days – great news in the run up to Christmas. Montgenevre expects 30cm by Thursday.
There’s been no fresh snow in the past 72 hours for resorts in Austria but moderate snowfall is expected later this week from Thursday on. Instead, strong winds have been causing problems at some of the half-dozen glacier resorts currently operating in the country. Already open resorts include: Ischgl (0-60cm), Obergurgl (10-68cm), Kaprun (Kitzsteinhorn Glacier 10-110cm),and Solden (0-82cm) with 23cm of snow expected tomorrow.
Austrian ski resorts scheduled to open this Saturday include Kitzbühel (0-30cm) and Schladming (0-40cm), but Mayrhofen and St Anton have both decided to delay opening by a week until they have more snow.
Many of Italy’s leading resorts, including Bormio (0-50cm), Cervinia (10-160cm), Cortina (5-30cm), Livigno (5-97cm) and Madonna di Campiglio (0-20cm) were open by last weekend. This Saturday sees the opening of most of the terrain at the world’s largest ski pass area, the Dolomiti Superski in the northeast of the country.
As with other parts of central Europe, many areas are expecting heavy snowfalls over the next 48 hours. Bormio expects 47cm to fall by Thursday and Cervinia an incredible 1.2 metres.
St Moritz (10-80cm) was the latest ski area to join the list of open Swiss resorts last weekend and is expecting 18cm of snow Thursday. The famous resort's Diavolezza glacier had been open for six weeks already but the local slopes are now open too.
As with other alpine destinations, there's been little new snow in Switzerland, but that should change dramatically over the coming week. Engelberg (0-80cm) for example, should see a 50cm fall by the end of Wednesday. Similarly Verbier, with 35cm on its slopes at present, may see nearly double that fall over the same period – we're predicting 58cm. Saas Fee, already with one of the deepest snow bases in Europe at 1.2m, should see that amount fall again by Thursday morning. Neighbouring Zermatt, which has a less impressive 40cm base at present, is forecast to receive similar falls which should dramatically improve things there.
It’s a very different picture in the Pyrenees to this time last week.The slopes are now transformed from green to white and snow is currently falling and temperatures dipping to -5C so the snow cannons are firing up too. Snow cover so far is only a few centimetres but Grandvalira in Andorra has confirmed it will open this Saturday. Just over the border in Spain, the country's leading resort Baqueira Beret has also announced it will open Saturday.
There are no resorts open yet in Eastern Europe but it is reported to be getting colder with snow showers for Bansko in Bulgaria so hopefully opening day is not far off now.
In Scandinavia, where resorts have been enjoying a great start to the season, there was a minor hiccup with warm temperatures last week, but at the start of this week cold weather has returned and several areas report 20cm or more of fresh snow. The region's biggest resort, Are in Sweden, still has a 14cm base however and just a few runs open. Norway's Hemsedal is doing much better with 20 runs open, a 70cm base and 6cm of fresh snow yesterday. There's little fresh snow to the north in Lapland but, with temperatures hitting double digits below freezing, once it falls, it's staying. And snowmaking is building up bases on main runs at leading resorts like Levi and Yllas in Finland.
The slopes of all five Scottish ski areas have turned white over the weekend and it is snowing today. More snow and colder weather is expected throughout the remainder of the week with wind chill as low as -15C. Cairngorm spokesman Colin Kirkwood said he was optimistic of the possibility of opening in the next week or so in line with the usual early-December start to the Scottish ski season.
Western Canada continues to offer some of the best conditions in the world at present with Revelstoke in British Columbia, the resort with the largest lift-served vertical on the North American continent, scheduled to open Satuday with a 100+cm base and more than three metres of pre-season snowfall to date.
In the US snowfall has largely slowed. Breckenridge reports a 46cm base with seven of its 155 runs open but no fresh snow recently. Jackson Hole in Wyoming to the north has a similar amount of terrain open mid-week but is faring a little better with an 84cm base and a 10cm snowfall on Monday.
THE WEEK AHEAD
It’s looking good for more snow in many parts of Europe over the next seven days, with almost all of the Alps likely to see low temperatures and in some cases substantial snowfalls of up to a metre.
Less snowfall is expected in North America except in the already snowy North-West of the continent where resorts like Revelstoke and Whistler may expect another metre of fresh powder.
Our next “Where is the snow in Europe and North America?” report will be published Wed, Dec. 5.