We take a look back at the season’s snowfall across the world’s major ski areas.

Over the 2017/2018 winter, resorts from Nevis Range to Niseko have boasted about bumper snowfalls and tumbling records, but who has fared best? We touched base with the snow reporting team to get the story of the season, from first snow right through to closing day.

The team consulted the Ski Club’s historical snow data from across the globe. Members can access 9-day weather forecasts and the same historical snow reports for hundreds of resorts. Find out more about becoming a Ski Club member here.

One of the best winters in recent memory for the Alps 

Snow began falling early and heavily across Europe, an early indication of the season to come. Storm Karl blanketed almost the entirety of the Alps with large amounts of snow that would form the beginnings of the season’s snowpack through the second week in November, providing especially good skiing in the Austrian Glaciers. Mid December saw the vast majority of Alpine resorts opening to some of the best snowpack in recent years, as well as frequent powder days thanks to our second major storm - Yves. 

Val d'Isere

The festive period saw a radical transformation, with a sunny period towards the end of December ending abruptly on Boxing Day, replaced instead by heavy snowfall. The final days of 2017 undoubtedly provided some of the best festive skiing the Alps had seen in many years. Storms Eleanor and Evi were the big news in January, delivering both vast amounts of fresh snow, with high Alpine resorts in northern France and Switzerland recording as much as 1.5m of snow in 48 hour periods. With this though came widespread disruption - poor visibility and either part or complete resort closures due to wind and heavy snow and avalanche risk. At its most extreme, guests in Espace Killy and Val Thorens were advised not to leave their accommodation, while a lack of access led to helicopter evacuations from Zermatt.

News Story: Have we just had the storm of the decade?

Following this, conditions settled somewhat, though ongoing cloud cover and snowfall led to a season with one of the fewest sunny days in recent years, as anyone who spent the season in the Alps would tell you. Record breaking snowfall led to fantastic late season skiing across the vast majority of the Alps, with vastly more snow on the ground through late March and April than had been seen in previous years. The days tended to be cool and overcast rather than bright and sunny, either a positive or negative depending on your inclination towards spring like skiing. Those skiing at Easter weekend had their pick of resorts for riding powder, something which is far from common.

Verbier

Across the Alps, almost no resorts or regions had a less than stellar season, though of course there were some standouts. The Tarentaise region of France undoubtedly saw the it’s best season in many people’s memory, while the Swiss Valais and Italian Piedmont were also saw seasons that will likely be talked about for some time, thanks to a strong retour d'est this season.

The Pyrenees got better and better throughout the season

The pre-season snow the graced the Alps fell similarly heavily over the Pyrenees, especially on the French side, curtesy of Storm Karl. Following this period, the early season was far less eventful than in the Alps, tending to see far smaller amounts of snow, though conversely far more pleasant sunny days. A period of snow in late January and early February helped improve the snow across the French, Andorran and Spanish Pyrenees.

The conditions continued to pick up further through the season with overnight snowfalls of up to 50cm becoming more frequent even as it became less so in the Alps. This escalation of snowfall as the season progressed resulted in especially impressive spring skiing opportunities, with each of these resorts offering great coverage right until their closing dates, as far as 1st May for Arcalis-Vallnord.  

Grandvalira

Business as usual in Canada

There were promising signs early on that it was going to be a good season in Canada. Snow arrived earlier than last year In British Columbia, and Panorama in particular saw a base depth of around 60- 80cm in November. Much of Canada experienced on going snowfall throughout the start of December, and resorts in Banff, Alberta, such as Lake Louise offered a record breaking start to the season.

Skies did eventually clear, and by mid-December the majority of resorts were open. Quebec, and Tremblant in particular seemed the only resort to suffer from mild weather, but Christmas then delivered the goods to kick-start the season. 

January proved to be largely cloudy, plenty of snow fell, and a spell of slightly milder weather moved in which offered welcome respite from the bitterly cold temperatures seen over New Year. Throughout February and into March conditions were excellent, with BC consistently serving up excellent powder skiing. Fernie’s base depth was up to around 350cm by this point, almost 80cm up on the previous season. Into April and Canada fought off spring valiantly, snow fell in Alberta and BC right into the middle of the month, with spring snow only apparent towards the end of April. Come May and keen skiers could still enjoy turns at Whistler, which will be open from 9th June – 15th July for summer skiing.

Revelstoke

It’s been a funny old season in the USA. 

Wyoming based Jackson Hole enjoyed a superb start, but resorts in the central Rockies were not as lucky. By early December snow had arrived in New England, and in Alaska guests were enjoying a great opening weekend at Alyeska.

A new weather system moved in over Christmas, delivering snow to Vermont and allowing for Killington to really get things underway. Simultaneously, welcome snow was falling across Utah, Colorado, as well as much of the rest of the western resorts – ending an extended period of mild conditions. Big Sky reported almost 100cm of fresh in a single week, and things suddenly looked rosier.

In January, stormy conditions continued to dominate the north east, with a severe low pressure system delivering record low temperatures across the region, but the clear skies in the Rockies were became an irritating fixture. The outlook did improved in February, but snow levels were on average 60% of seasonal norms, dropping to as low as 35% in the worst effected resorts. Fast forward to March, and the season suddenly boomed, California was now predicted huge amounts of snow, and over 5 metres came down at Mammoth over the course of the month.

Thomas Kovacik

As operations wound down in April, Taos, New Mexico, was the first to close after disappointingly lacklustre season. However, Colorado was enjoying great spring skiing, banishing the poor early season as a distant memory. Timberline, Oregon, had a really strong spring and saw plenty of late snow, and like Whistler the resort will continue to offer summer skiing.

Japan, somewhat unsurprisingly had a very snowy season.

Though the resorts of Hakuba and Niseko have a reputation for receiving mountains of snow, the past couple of seasons have been somewhat lacklustre, so 17/18 was a welcome return to form. In total, Hakuba reported 547cm of snowfall, while Niseko is head and shoulders above with 912cm – almost double the previous season (and these are only what’s recorded in the villages)! Japan sees its largest snowfalls in slightly later than Europe, with more than half of the recorded January quantities falling in the last 7 days of the month, followed by a huge 3m in February.

Niseko

Spring arrived far earlier in Japan than the rest of the world, with April bringing only 13cm of snow to Niseko, and Hakuba seeing only 37cm in the whole of March and April, where rain became increasingly prominent. Thankfully, the huge quantities from earlier in the season meant skiing remained viable as far as mid-April, with the last lifts in Niseko not stopping until the start of May!

Bonnie, snowy Scotland. 

What a season it has been, and what a difference a year can do to change the painful memories of 2016/2017. More than 200,000 skiers descended upon Scotland ski centres, as seasonal records were broken. Skiing was underway by the end of November, but conditions quickly deteriorated, and by 7th December all Scottish ski centres were temporarily closed. However, from New Year onwards there was an upwards trajectory in snow depth across the country, and by March Glencoe’s snowpack reached around 300cm. In comparison it was roughly 30cm at the same point in 2016/17 and 100cm in 2015/16. The final skiing of the year was also found at Glencoe, who brought what was a brilliant season to a close on May 7th.

Glenshee