Snowfall activity has been more noticeable in North America than in Europe over the past week, as it has been warmer with limited fresh snowfall in the Alps, although some resorts have still reported 20-40cm of new snow.
By contrast there have been huge snowfalls in North America with Squaw Valley reporting its second greatest ever snow depth by Christmas Day following 1.75m of new snow in seven days. Conditions remain excellent in western Canada where the snow keeps falling and the snow depth continues to build in the Rockies and on the east coast.
See our 'where is the snow' gallery here: Recent Snowfall
There’s been little fresh snow in the French mountains in the past week either, but that’s not a problem for most resorts thanks to the big snow bases that built up through November and December. The deepest – La Clusaz and Les Arcs – claiming around three metres on upper slopes. Most other big-name French resorts have at least 2m of snow on upper slopes though so they have plenty too. The biggest snowfalls of the past week were reported by Val Thorens (41cm), Avoriaz (33cm), and La Plagne, Les Contamines and Tignes (all 30cm) and Val d’Isere (25cm).
There has been little fresh snow in Austria in the past week and above-freezing temperatures in many resorts has led to some loss off the snowpack. In most cases the snow is deep enough for this not to matter much, but snow conditions have none-the-less been better at colder, higher elevations.
The biggest snowfalls have been reported in the Arlberg and SkiWelt regions with Lech and Kirchberg reporting 25cm each, and there have been similar accumulations at Alpbach in the newly opened Ski Jewel region and at Obergurgl, which has one off the deepest snow bases in Austria at 2.1m. The maximum snow depth at other major resorts has dropped back below 2 metres.
Most of the ski resorts in Italy are fully open but there’s been little fresh snow in the past week. Livigno has had the biggest snow accumulation, 20cm, with La Thuile in the Aosta Valley receiving 10cm of new snow. Cervinia continues to report the deepest snow in the country at 2.6m but half-a-dozen other major resorts in Italy also have snow bases of more than two metres on upper slopes. These include Madesimo with 205cm, and two metres on the glacier at Passo Tonale. The snow base is thinner and there’s been no fresh snow reported in the Dolomites. Val Gardena has 20-70cm on its slopes.
Switzerland has some of the deepest snow in the world at the moment and, although there has been less snow in the past week than during the rest of December, some resorts have reported significant accumulations: Verbier with 35cm, Wengen with 30cm and Villars with 20cm. The deepest snow reported in the country, and indeed all of Europe, is at Andermatt, with 3.5m. Other resorts with deep snow include Gstaad with 3.1m, Engelberg with 2.7m, Zermatt with 2.2m and Crans Montana with 2m.
A dry week in the Pyrenees too with little fresh snow. Base depths on upper slopes in Andorra and Spain’s top resorts measure 60-110cm. Most runs are open however and on-piste conditions are good. The biggest accumulation reported was 5cm at Pas de la Casa in Grandvalira.
There’s been fresh snow in Bulgaria: Bansko's upper base depth has reached a metre after 25cm of new snow, one of the biggest falls in Europe over the past seven days. Borovets also saw snow at the weekend, and now has a 90cm base.
There’s been 15cm of new snow in Scandinavia’s biggest resort of Are, taking base depths up to 41cm and allowing the resort to open three-quarters of its 42 lifts. Hemsedal, the leading resort in Norway, has reached a metre snow depth after receiving 10cm of new snow, the same as neighbouring Geilo. The biggest snowfall however has been at Lillehammer with 17cm of snow falling in the past week.
The usual mixed bag of conditions in Scotland. Glenshee, the final area to open, had good conditions initially but strong winds and forecast rain have cut the number of complete runs there to a handful. Cairngorm was closed for four days prior to Christmas week but is looking good now. The Lecht remains almost completely open and over on the West Coast all lower runs are complete at Glencoe and the upper slopes have some great skiing on nice soft snow. Nevis Range was closed on Christmas Day but expects fresh snow this week.
Western Canada’s snowy season continues with many resorts at record or near record snow levels. Fernie has received more than a metre of snow in the past week and has a 2.3m base. Similarly Sun Peaks, also in BC, received nearly a metre of snow over eight days and is currently on track to break its all-time record of 2.47m of new snowfall in December, set in 2006/2007. Whistler has a snow base of more than 2.2m having received yet another 90cm of new snow in the past week too. Over on the east coast conditions are reasonable good in Quebec too, although snowfall has slowed with only 10 or 15cm of new snow building bases up to 60cm at resorts of Mont Sainte Anne and Tremblant.
Conditions have improved in most parts of the US over the past week with huge snowfalls on the west coast and healthy snowfalls in most other ski regions, allowing some resorts to open for the first time. Heavenly, California has had 91cm of fresh snow and Aspen, Colorado has had 43cm.
All the snow is not without its dangers though – a snowboarder died in an avalanche at one ski area earlier this week and another avalanche at Alpine Meadows left a ski patrol worker seriously injured.
Over on the east coast, Maine got all they wanted for Christmas when up to 75cm of fresh snow arrived in a storm towards the end of last week transforming conditions at resorts like Sugarloaf.
THE WEEK AHEAD
In North America we expect snowfall to continue in most areas, although at a lesser rate than in the past week with perhaps 20cm of new snow for resorts in California, The Rockies and New England.
In Europe we’re forecasting a somewhat snowier week in the Alps with accumulations of up to 40cm expected. We expect slightly larger snowfalls in Scandinavia, but not so much in the Pyrenees.
See our 'where is the snow' gallery here: Recent Snowfall
Our next 'where is the snow' report will be published Jan. 2, 2013