It has been one of the driest weeks of the 2012-13 winter for most of the major ski regions in the northern hemisphere. The biggest falls of 40-50cm were reported in Alaska, Alberta, Colorado and Wyoming. In the Alps it’s been largely cold and dry, although some smaller snow falls left pistes in excellent condition. The snowy deluge in the Pyrenees has slowed but it continues to have the deepest snowbase in the world with 5.9m at Cauterets on the French side.

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The rate of snowfall has slowed in France over the last week with most resorts receiving only a few centimetres of fresh snow. There were exceptions however in the Alps, with La Clusaz reporting 25cm and Tignes 20cm over the last seven days. Away from the exceptionally deep snow in the Pyrenees (see separate entry) snow cover in the French Alps remains very good with most major resorts reporting a 2.5-3.5m base on upper slopes. The deepest however is at  Flaine with 420cm followed by Alpe d’Huez on 380cm. Other resorts receiving fresh snow in the past week include Avoriaz, Flaine, and Meribel each with 15cm and Europe’s highest resort Val Thorens with 10cm.


In Austria, the last two weeks have been dominated by the Alpine Ski World Cup in Schladming. All in all 300,000 fans were registered for watching the races live in the ski arena and after a foggy start, snow conditions were generally good throughout. There has not been a lot of new snow in Austrian resorts over the past week but snow conditions are still excellent in all leading resorts. Best falls were up to 40cm at some smaller resorts last Saturday with Fieberbrunn and Ischgl receiving 10cm. Best snow depths: Kleinwalsertal is now on top (370cm) followed by former ‘deepest’ Pitztal Glacier (335cm) then the Dachstein Glacier (320cm) and Lech Zurs Arlberg (300cm).


There’s been cold weather and very little new snow across Italy but pistes are in good shape with the snow maintaining its integrity. The only significant snowfall has been reported at Cervinia with 12cm on upper slopes taking base depths past the 2m mark again. Indeed most of the country’s leading resorts now have healthy base depths in the 1.5-2.5m bracket on upper slopes including Livingo (201cm) and Arabba (214cm), which has one of the deepest bases in the Dolomites, while La Thule’s 260cm base is the deepest in the Italian Alps. The deepest base in the country remains at Passo Tonale with 310cm so it is well placed for its spring skiing season on the glacier which normally runs in to May and June.


Although there’s been no new snowfall in the last three days, Swiss ski resorts (along with the French) are reporting the best snow depths in Europe with a 5m base reported by Engelberg. Gstaad also has a huge snow base of 440cm and Andermatt 420cm. Crans Montana and Laax  report maximum snow depth between 310cm and 342cm. Good falls were reported at the beginning of last weekend on Friday and Saturday when Gstaad received 10cm both days and resorts like Crans Montana, Zermatt, Verbier and Saas Fee reported 10-20cm of fresh powder on Friday.


The snowfall has finally slowed a little in the Pyrenees after a month-long white deluge but  Cauterets on the French side remains at the top of the world’s deepest snowbase table with 5.9m.  But it’s the Spanish siode that has the most of the snow over the past seven days with Baqueira Beret adding yet another 30cm of fresh to their total, now 4.5m.  In Andorra the basses are deep too with Arcalis in Vallnord the deepest at 3.2m but  Grandvalira isn’t far behind with 2.5m and had the most snows in the principality in the past week (15cm).


Voss on Norway’s coast continues to have the region’s deepest base by far, for a leading resort at least, with 220cm. But Lillehammer had the most new snow in Scandinavia in the past seven days building its base to 120cm after 28cm of new snow, more than double the max reported anywhere else. Up in Lapland base depths are around the metre mark with all terrain open and all lifts running at most areas. Yllas reported 10cm of new snow in the last week and a 120cm base. Over in Sweden there was just a few centimetres of new snow at Are which reports a 76cm base.

Eastern Europe

There’s been up to 10cm of new snow in Eastern European ski areas and most resorts have healthy snow depths with all or nearly all runs open. Bansko, Bulgaria’s largest resort, now has a very impressive 240cm snow depth on upper slopes. There’s been another 5cm of snow in Slovenia too where Kranjska Gora has passed the metre mark for snow depth this season and is now at 120cm.


Scottish ski areas could hardly ask for better half-term conditions with virtually all runs open at all five areas. Temperatures have been warmer over the past few days leading to softer ‘Springlike’ snow but a return to colder weather is imminent. Away from the prepared slopes of ski centres the avalanche risk is high. Four climbers were killed in two separate avalanche incidents last week, taking the total killed this winter on the Scottish mountains to nine. 


It has been one of the snowiest weeks in Western Canada of 2013 so far with up to 40cm of new snow reported in Alberta and BC, and nearly every resort has had a good dump of fresh powder. The biggest accumulations were reported at Lake Louise, Alberta with 38cm, and Marmot Basin and Big White, each adding around 20cm of fresh powder. Silver Star and Kicking Horse also got about 15cm each of new snow , and typical base depths in the region are now around the 2m mark. There was less new snow on the east coast but Mont Sainte Anne’s base is now up to 1.4m after another 10cm of snow.


There’s been more serious snowfall in Colorado and resorts are building base depths and offering the powder for which they’re famed. In fact Steamboat’s reported 50cm of powder in the past seven days is the biggest reported anywhere in the northern hemisphere this week.  Vail added more than a foot (35cm) taking its base depth tantalisingly close to the metre mark at 99cm. There were also big falls at Jackson Hole (46cm) and at Alyeska in Alaska (48cm).  The latter’s base of 440cm is one of the world’s deepest although Mammoth’s reported 4.6m is still the country’s deepest. On the east coast there’s been 5-10cm of new snow at many reports in New Hampshire, New York, Maine and Vermont keeping slopes freshened up – base depths are typically 80-120cm in the region.

The week ahead

After largely dry and sunny conditions over the past week in the western Alps, more snow is expected to arrive in the latter half of this week. In the east the latest band of snow has already arrived and is falling quite heavily in Austria. More snow is expected in Scotland and Scandinavia too. Over in North America the snowy weather in Colorado is expected to continue with more powder falling, and in Canada there should be some heavy snowfalls right across the west of the country with Whistler well placed for a big dump.

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Our next Where is the snow in Europe and North America report will be pubished Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.