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Snow overview - our twice-weekly round up of the latest snow conditions in the mountains

Snow Overview

Our twice-weekly round up of the latest snow conditions in the mountains

Get the latest snow and weather conditions in all major ski areas updated on Monday and Thursday afternoons by the Ski Club's information department.

Thursday 18 December 2014

latest Ski Club Snowcast

Summary

There has been an increase in temperature in Europe with many resorts experiencing light rainfall. This unfortunately has washed away some of the new snow that fell on Wednesday, particularly below an altitude of 2,000m.

Almost all of our featured Austrian resorts are open but a small number are still on hold until conditions improve. For the majority that were open it was mainly cloudy with a few sunny spells and there is light snow forecast in the later hours but only at altitude, with rain lower down.

Thursday morning dawned rainy below between 2,000-2,500m across much of the French Alps. Up high good powder conditions have been reported, but lower down the slopes are suffering.

New snow fell on Wednesday at most Swiss resorts but Thursday unfortunately started rainy, with snow levels rising to 2,500m. The best conditions into the weekend are therefore likely to be at altitude.

Good skiing is available in Italy predominantly in the higher resorts where base depths are much more substantial. There are still four of our featured Italian resorts yet to open as a result of the lack of snow.

The majority of lifts were turning across Andorra today, but unfortunately mild temperatures brought some light rain on Wednesday night. As a result, some heavy on piste conditions are likely. Similar conditions exist in the Spanish resorts of Formigal and Baquiera-Beret. 

The very good early season conditions in Norway continued this week, with some new snow falling at all resorts. Again Voss on the west coast has seen the most snowfall, topping a metre of powder on the upper slopes in the past seven days. Decent skiing is also available in Sweden, particularly at Salen which had 40 lifts turning on Thursday. 

Good skiing under sunny skies was on offer in Bankso this week, although the best skiing remains on the upper slopes. Pamporovo was also open for limited skiing and Borovets is due to be open this weekend for skiing.

Three Scottish ski areas were open for skiing on Thursday 18th December, although high winds were limiting snowsports at Cairngorm to only the funicular. More snow is in the forecast and if the weather calms down on the weekend, we may see a full house of open resorts for the first time this season.

New snow has refreshed pistes across North America, on both the west and the east coast. Parts of Colorado and Utah also saw some excellent snowfalls earlier this week leading to some good powder days. California has really joined the party this week, with two big storms dropping lots of new snow on resorts such as Mammoth and Squaw Valley.

Light snow was falling on the west coast of Canada on Thursday, and with more in the forecast; conditions should improve following last week’s warm weather. The east coast also saw some decent snowfall totals overnight and should receive more in the run up to the weekend.

Austria

There was an abundance of cloud seen across Austria on Thursday 18th December with some resorts reporting light rainfall lower down and light snowfall at high altitude. The temperature in Austria has risen with some mid-mountain levels being reported at 6C, this has unfortunately hindered some snowmaking for resort runs but pistes remain in a better state higher up.

Despite the poor weather there are still good riding conditions particularly on the higher resorts and glaciers. Solden (0/190cm) has plenty of options at high altitude, although the resort runs are closed there were 24 lifts running in total on Thursday. A recent snowfall of around 5cm on Wednesday has bolstered the high altitude runs and resort teams are reporting good, groomed pistes as a result.

The current warm weather is expected to subside and drop back down to below freezing, and the weekend’s forecast is indicating cloudy skies on Saturday with a good chance of fresh snow to all of our featured resorts. Some resorts are expecting up to 8cm. It could get much warmer at the start of the week but come Christmas time the temperature is looking like dropping back down again.

France

Unfortunately rain was falling across much of France on Thursday 18th December. This followed some good snowfalls of up to 20cm on Wednesday, which below approximately 2,000-2,500m will have been affected by the rainfall. That being said, upper slopes will make good gains from this snowstorm, so hopefully more terrain up high should open for the coming weekend.

The best conditions again remain at altitude, with glacier resorts seeing the most snowfall but more importantly snow on Thursday rather than rain. Tignes (25/40cm) saw 20cm up on the Grande Motte glacier and over the links across to Val d’Isere (10/40cm). Val Thorens (60/100cm) continues its excellent start to the season, reporting 20cm of fresh snow and owing to its high altitude it was still snowing on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the situation is not looking as good. In the lower resorts, such as those in the Portes du Soleil the rain has been a big set back. The upper slopes should hold on to Wednesday’s snowfall, but the latest webcam images on Thursday suggest that at resort level much of this is already melting.

As many resorts are due to open this weekend, keep an eye on resort websites for the latest opening information following Thursday’’s rainfall.

Switzerland

It was a very mixed picture on Thursday 18th in the Swiss Alps. Up to 30cm of fresh snow fell on Wednesday and overnight, but warm temperatures brought rain up to 2,500m for most resorts during Thursday. At altitude some good amounts of new snow will have accumulated, but lower down much of yesterday’s fall will be washed away.

The greatest amount of snow fell in the Bernese Oberland, at resorts such as Gstaad (0/65cm), Wengen (0/25cm) and Crans-Montana (5/40cm). However due to Thursday’s rain, only very limited skiing was available at these resorts and heavy piste conditions were prevalent below 2,500m.

The best skiing during the week has been at altitude, with the pick of the conditions at Zermatt (5/95cm) and Saas-Fee (25/190cm) up at altitude. New snow should improve the piste conditions for the weekend, but resort runs may become icy once the forecast cooler weather arrives on Saturday.

After a warm and mostly sunny Friday, Saturday should bring much colder weather and the potential for some light snowfall, especially in the north of Switzerland.

Italy

There was a mixture of weather seen across Italy on Thursday 18th December. Some resorts experienced sunshine and clouds whereas others had light rainfall. There is a warm weather front in Europe at the moment and it has recently hit Italy, which even saw some high resorts such as Val Senales (5/260cm) experience light rainfall.

There is a still lot of good riding available in Italy despite recent weather. The Presena Glacier (40/350cm) has an excellent base depth and on Thursday there were 20 lifts in operation. The weather was a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a mid-mountain temperature of around 2C.

Cesena, Courmayeur, Claviere and Macugnaga are all still closed until snow conditions improve.

If you are heading out to any of our featured Italian resorts this weekend you can expect much brighter skies, there should be a few spots of cloud but on the whole it’ll be fairly sunny. The temperature looks as though it will drop and hover around zero before rising at the start of the new week, however come Christmas time a cold front will settle in, which will reduce temperatures significantly and could bring fresh snow.

Andorra

Some good skiing was on offer across Andorra this week, with the majority of lifts spinning across both the Grandvalira and Vallnord areas. The pick of the conditions were in Pas de la Casa (30/90cm) and Arcalis (45/85cm). Unfortunately mild weather also hit the Pyrenees on Thursday, with light rainfall overnight leading to heavy on piste conditions, particularly lower down. Mild weather is forecast to continue over the weekend, but fortunately the skies will clear by Friday.

Norway/Sweden

Good early season conditions prevail across Norway at the moment. Voss (70/165cm) has seen new snowfall every day this week, with 65cm falling in the past three days alone. Once the weather clears the skiing will be epic, especially up high. On Thursday 18th December, Trysil (60/60cm) had 10 lifts turning and Hemsedal (74/77cm) had 15 lifts spinning, and both were reporting good on piste conditions following light snowfall this week.

Despite its relatively shallow snow depth, Salen (25/30cm) had 40 lifts open, with more possible over the weekend. Some light snowfall this week has softened the pistes and most of them are in very good condition considering the base depth. Are (10/20cm) had five lifts open, mainly thanks to lots of snowmaking. Some welcome natural snowfall is expected on Sunday.

Germany

Again the skiing in Germany remains very limited heading into the weekend. The Zugspitze glacier above Garmisch (0/80cm) was offering some skiing on Thursday 18th December, as was boosted by up to 10cm of snowfall at the summit. The Kanzelwand sector in Oberstdorf (0/50cm) remains open, but only two lifts were providing access to ski pistes. Berchtesgaden, Feldberg, Lenggries, Reit im Winkl and Spitzringsee remain closed.

Bulgaria

The pick of the conditions this week have been at Bankso (0/60cm), where seven lifts were turning on Thursday 18th December. Skiing conditions at the top of the mountain were good under sunny skies. Limited sliding was also to be had at Pamporovo (15/20cm), although the open runs were mostly comprised of artificial snow. A sunny weekend is forecast. 

Scotland

Limited skiing at Cairngorm (20/45cm) was available on Thursday 18th December, with a top to bottom run accessed from the funicular. The top bowls are ready to go once the weather calms down slightly, hopefully at some point over the weekend. Limited skiing was also on offer at The Lecht (15/40cm) and Glenshee (20/40cm) on Thursday, although the lower areas were becoming patchy. Lots of new snow is forecast in the lead up to the weekend, so hopefully more runs will become complete. Glencoe and the Nevis Range are planning to open this weekend, but check with their websites as they will only run if the stormy weather calms down somewhat.

USA

It has been a good week for skiing in North America, following good snowfalls earlier this week and several top ups in the past few days.

Telluride (94cm) saw the most snowfall on Thursday 18th December, with 21cm of new snow. Elsewhere, up to 10cm of snow has fallen at resorts such as Vail (79cm) and Breckenridge (89cm).

Excellent snow has also been reported in California this week, with two large storms depositing big snowfalls, particularly on the upper mountain. Squaw Valley (97cm) saw 33cm in the latest storm and with more forecast, the conditions will be fantastic in the run up to Christmas.

The east coast has not missed out either, with new snow reported on Thursday morning at Sunday River (51cm) and Killington (40/60cm). Cold weather, accompanied with sunny skies is forecast for the weekend so the skiing should be great.

Canada

Light snow was falling across Canada on Thursday 18th December.

The most was falling on the east coast, with Tremblant (65/95cm) and Mont Sainte-Anne (15/122cm) seeing up to 10cm by the end of Wednesday night. Piste conditions will undoubtedly be improved by the new snowfall.

Light snow was also dropping on Whistler (90cm) and Silver Star (57/84cm), freshening up the pistes ahead of the weekend. Good news is in the forecast as more snow is expected, with Whistler potentially seeing 50cm by next week.

European Weather Outlook

The weather across Europe is set to be predominantly sunny as we move into next week. Some clouds could deliver fresh snow at the start of the weekend but this will mostly be in Andorra, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. This will not be enough to dramatically enhance the overall riding conditions but fresh snow is still a nice thing to receive. Next week will then be predominantly sunny with the freezing level rising to over 3,000m for Tuesday 23rd December before plummeting again to around 1,000m for Christmas. There is good news for Christmas too as further fresh snowfall is forecast on Christmas Day or Boxing Day at most European resorts.

Norway and Sweden are forecast a different week to most of Europe though, with fresh snow predicted on most days. The Swedish resort of Salen may be the exception here though as less snow may land at this resort.

The Scottish resorts should see a similarly cloudy week to the Scandinavian resorts although rain may result at times and strong winds are expected, which could affect lift operations. Fresh snowfall is forecast at times though, and Christmas visitors could be in for a great time with snow on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

North American Weather Outlook

Fresh snow is forecast at almost all of our featured North American resorts over the weekend and in the run up to Christmas Day.

In America over half a metre of snow is forecast at mid-mountain level at Jackson Hole, Keystone, Canyons, Breckenridge, Park City, Solitude, Snowbird, Alta, Copper Mountain and Crested Butte. Crested Butte is predicted the greatest amount of snow with 58cm forecast at mid-mountain level by Friday 26th December.

Whistler should receive the most fresh snow in Canada over the next week, with 50cm predicted at mid-mountain level by Friday 26th. Kicking Horse is another good choice if you want fresh snow, with over 20cm expected over the same period.
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