The Return Of The Big Snowfalls
* A foot of fresh in the French Pyrenees.
* 50cm in 24 Hours on Germany’s ski slopes.
* Another metre of snow in 36 hours for Scotland.
* “Dream like conditions” in Austria where resorts report 30cm (a foot) of new snow.
* “Finest powder snow” in Switzerland.
* Three feet of new snow in California
There has been fresh snow across much of Europe and North America in the past few days with many resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees reporting at least 30cm (a foot) of new snow. The snowfall is continuing today with more fresh snow across both continents.
Italy has seen some of the most snow in the past few days, especially in the north of the country. Two thirds of powder alarms issued today for snowfall of more than 20m in 24 hours have been issued for the country, with Limone reporting 60cm (two feet).
Temperatures have dropped dramatically from up to 20 degrees last week to sub-zero temperatures by the weekend and more snow is forecast for the rest of the week.
Arabba Marmolada has the deepest snow with a five metre (nearly 17 feet) of snow with the Pragelato glacier having 430cm (14.3 feet) and Courmayeur 330cm (11 feet) of snow.
Germany had a snowy weekend with more than 30 powder alarms. Most of them were issued in the central and southern uplands (Sauerland, Harz and Black Forest).
Gaby Baur of the Black Forest Tourism Board told the regional broadcasting corporation (SWR), “The current winter season is one of the best we ever had.”
The Allgäu saw some remarkable snowfalls, too. On Sunday Grasgehren there even reported the weekend’s biggest snowfall in Germany with 50cm (20 inches) of fresh powder within 24 hours. The Zugspitze had 20cm the same day. Oberstdorf had already reported 30cm (a foot) of powder on Saturday.
Austria also had some healthy snowfalls last weekend. The most snowflakes could be seen in Vorarlberg where Diedamskopf had a foot (30cm) of new snow on Sunday.
In Kleinwalsertal – Fellhorn/Kanzelwand up to 30cm (a foot) of powder came down on Saturday and Sandra Janser of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus said they have, “dreamlike conditions” and “plenty of powder snow and sun” there. “All the 47 lifts and 91 slopes are open,” she said.
Today (Wednesday) Austrian ski resorts like Großglockner, Katschberg and Ankogel reported another 10-15cm (4-6 inches) of new snow. Sölden got 9cm. The Mölltal glacier issued a powder alarm because of 20cm (eight inches) of fresh powder.
Ski resorts in Switzerland were also busy issuing powder alarms on Sunday. Andermatt-Gotthard did so because of 20cm of freshly fallen snow.
Peter Heinzer, director of Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen, told Skiinfo,
“It’s hardly possible to describe the snow conditions here without using many superlatives,” and so he described the “finest powder snow” and “unique skiing conditions.”
In Sedrun, Brienz and 15 other Swiss resorts similar snowfalls were reported. Disentis had 25cm (10 inches0 in 24 hours.
France turned very cold on Sunday and the south of the country received some significant snowfalls, especially for March. For example, in the Gard department (Southern France), 40cm of powder in the valleys, which at this time of year and in such volume has not happened since 1974.
The Winter X Games Europe kick off in Tignes today for the very first time. Tignes was chosen to host this key event in freestyle ski and snowboard until March 12th.
Chamonix still has the deepest snow in the country with 407cm (13.5 feet), La Grave la Meije has 330cm (11 feet) and La Rosière 1850 290cm (nearly 10 feet).
There have been big snowfalls in Pyrenees, and the nearby city of Barcelona ground to a standstill due to the weekend snowstorm.
However that’s great news in the mountains and the country’s ski resorts are now reporting some of the best conditions all season with great snow cover everywhere.
Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Europe with five metres on their upper slopes. This week this most southern resort in Europe will host the European Freestyle Championship gathering the best freestyle riders (ski and snowboard) in the disciplines of moguls and skicross.
The Pyrenees are still looking very nice with more than 2mof snow on the top of the slopes with Boi Taull having the most with three metres. Formigal has the most terrain open in the region with 240cm (eight feet) on upper slopes and 136km of trails open.
Andorra also received good snowfalls of up to a foot of new snow, although the snow arrived driven by strong winds which led to lit closures at the start of the week.
On the French side of the mountains up to 80cm (32 inches) of heavy snow fell on Monday on the mountains with 20 to 40cm (8-16 inches) in the valleys.
Formigueres received a fall of 60cm (two feet) yesterday while France’s mot southerly village, Lamanère, reported, “We had a record accumulation with a metre of snow.”
In Scandinavia this last week has brought some serious snow in the north of the region. Sweden’s Björkliden, not far from Riksgränsen, released a powder alarm and got 29cm (a foot) since last Thursday, and in nearby ski resort Abisko, heavy snow and wind resulted in extreme avalanche danger, set on 5 on the avalanche scale on Monday, and the resort closed all lifts. It’ now down to 4. The road between Björkliden and Riksgränsen, where it’s still snowing with more than a foot of snow since last Thursday and avalanche danger is on 4, also closed on Monday due to the harsh weather (snow and heavy winds).
In the middle and south of Sweden the snow has eased since last week. The top resort of Åre got 12cm (four inches) the last week and is also hosting the FIS Freestyle World Cup on 12-13 March. The temperatures have dropped to just a couple degrees below zero in the mountains and some degrees above zero on the ski areas in the south but ski conditions remain great in a large part of the country.
In Scotland with the wind predominantly from the north east, snowfall has consistently loaded the east faces of the mountains, giving new pistes to ski and snowboard at all areas. At both Glencoe and Nevis Range, skiers and boarders have enjoyed sliding from the top lifts back to the lowest access points, which is pretty unusual.
Nevis Range Managing Director and ski-scotland member, Marian Austin, commented, “Unlike the ski areas in the east, we do not normally ski to our carpark, but this amazing snow cover, even at low level, has allowed us to offer skiing from 1,190m (3,900ft) down to 100m (330ft), which is about 4.5km, or close to 3 miles. As with Glencoe, the runs to the carpark are not pisted and are for experienced back country sliders – but what runs! With skiers well spread out across the mountain, our worst lift queues last weekend were around 30 people – so we’ve lots of space for more skiers and boarders!”
“The snow this year has been fantastic with constant cold and great skiing conditions,” added Pieter du Pon of the Lecht Ski Company. “Snow has just piled up week after week since before Christmas, with another metre falling in 36 hours last week.”
Eastern European ski areas received some much needed fresh snow with lower temperatures on Sunday and Monday too, dramatically improving conditions.
In North America the snow just keeps on falling in California. Last week over three feet (90cm) of snow fell in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain passed the 400″ (33 feet) of snowfall mark for the year in the first week of March, which is fantastic news for a ski resort where the season lasts well into May and May and has on occasion only closed after 4 July.
In Canada Banff-Lake Louise has just been named Top North American Spot for Spring Skiing by The New York Times (February 28, 2010) and received another dump of 25cm (10 inches) of fresh powder overnight.
Conditions are reported to be “mostly still good” on the continent’s East coast too.