Sunweb

Friday, 13 December 2019

Yet again we have new snow to report in the snow overview and we’re definitely not complaining! The focus of the latest snowstorm is very much on the northern French Alps and western Switzerland, with as much as 50-100cm of snow possible once the skies finally clear during the course of Saturday. So as we head into the festive holiday season, there’s a great base in place across much of the Alps and most terrain should be open after the latest snowstorm.

It is great news up in Scotland too, with Glencoe offering the first turns of the season on Friday and the news that a lot more new snow expected over the weekend. Expect more ski area openings in the coming days, especially as all now have all-weather snowfactories to lay down a decent base first. Conditions are also very good in Scandinavia thanks to lots of new snow this week.

Elsewhere in Europe, some decent skiing is on offer in the Pyrenees, although the mountains have missed out on the big snowfall totals recorded further east in the Alps. The season is now underway in Eastern Europe, although more snow is needed as most resorts are reliant on artificial snow at present.

Across in North America, Utah and Colorado are in the firing line for another big snowstorm, bringing as much as 40-60cm of fresh powder and bitterly cold temperatures to the mountains. This snowstorm would be very welcome further north in Canada, where more snow is needed to open more terrain before Christmas. Across on the East Coast, after a snowy week, another warm spell is forecast over the weekend which is likely to affect surface conditions.

Snow Alert

Based on current weather forecasts for the next 10 days, the top three resorts for expected snowfall are:

Bonneval sur Arc (France) – 121cm

Macugnaga (Italy) – 121cm

Méribel (France) – 121cm

Austria

Further snowfall was picked up in the Austrian mountains on Tuesday, with snow once again falling on Friday to improve conditions further. The most was dropping on the resorts to the west, with those further east seeing little more than a few flurries.

As a result of the recent snow, the standout conditions can be found in the Arlberg and in the Tirolean resorts to the west of Innsbruck. For example, the vast Ski Arlberg area – comprising Lech, Zürs and St Anton – had 57/88 lifts spinning on Friday, whilst Ischgl was reporting 142km of open slopes.

For reliable conditions pre-Christmas, the glacier ski areas are a great bet. The likes of Sölden, Stubai and Kauntertal have all be reporting good skiing conditions in recent days, with the majority of terrain open.

After the clouds clear through on Saturday, milder and more settled conditions are forecast for the new week, with sunny skies set to dominate.

France

Heavy snow and stormy winds were battering the French Alps on Friday, with Tignes and Val d’Isère amongst the resorts stormbound for the day, but both had already reported up to 40cm of fresh snow. Although frustrating for skiers and boarders out there already, the storm looks set to drop another 50-100cm of fresh snow by the time it blows itself out on Saturday, setting a fantastic base in the run up to Christmas.

Heavy snow was falling almost everywhere, including in the lower resorts on the northern fringes of the French Alps. Expect lots more terrain to open up thanks to the new snow in the Portes du Soleil for example, which is great news ahead of the busy holiday season.

Once the storm clears through expect some great skiing, particularly in the Tarentaise, at resorts such as Les Arcs, La Plagne and across the Three Valleys, but be careful out there as the avalanche danger has hit Level 4 already.

Meanwhile down in the Pyrenees, not as much snow has fallen in recent days, but some decent skiing is on offer, with Cauterets arguably offering the best conditions – and certainly the deepest snow pack.

Milder weather is forecast to take hold following the storm, leading to a much more settled and sunnier spell of weather for the first time in many weeks. The warmth may affect surface conditions, but at this time of year, the short days should mean that the loss of snow is not significant.

Switzerland

Heavy snow was also dumping down on the Swiss Alps on Friday, with up to 40cm reported already by late morning in places. This could be doubled in places by the time the snow peters out on Saturday, setting a great base ahead of the busy Christmas holiday weeks.

As a result of storm, many resorts were stormbound for the day on Friday, but once the weather clears and the avalanche conditions settle down, some very good skiing should be on offer. The likes of Verbier, Gstaad and the Jungfrau Region are set to have some of the best skiing – plus in Wengen, the new Männlichen gondola is set to spin for the first time on Saturday.

A mostly dry and mild week is forecast once the weather clears, but keep a look out for another spell of potentially strong föhn winds, which may cause issues for upper lifts in the northern part of the country.

Italy

With their southerly position, the Italian Alps benefited massively from November’s snowstorms, but recently have missed out on the biggest snowfall totals. A few resorts close to the French and Swiss were seeing some light snow on Friday, but nowhere near as much as further north.

That being said, conditions across the country are still very decent for the time of year and recent cool weather has enabled resort crews to keep the snow machines firing. So much so that 959km of slopes are now open in the Dolomites, a 20% increase on this time last week.

A sunny weekend is forecast, before another set of southerly snowstorms look set to sweep in during the middle of next week. There is some uncertainty at present, but a good deal of snow is possible so keep an eye out on our latest forecasts.

Andorra

High winds and snow showers were very much the order of the day in Andorra on Friday, refreshing pistes but closing upper lifts. The snow will definitely help freshen things up, but another big dump is needed to ensure all ski runs and lifts open up in time for Christmas. There is the potential for this to strike on Tuesday, but a little uncertainty over freezing levels and snowfall totals remains.

Germany

Limited skiing is on offer in Germany at present and the country’s lower resorts really need a good dump of snow or another cold spell of weather for their snow machines to ensure enough terrain is open for the Christmas holidays. For the best snow head up to the Zugspitze Glacier above Garmisch, which was also reporting some fresh snowfall on Friday. Next week is looking sunny, but is unfortunately set to be unseasonably mild, curtailing any snowmaking efforts.

Eastern Europe

The ski season is underway at the likes of Bansko in Bulgaria, Jasná in Solvakia and Kranjska Gora in Slovenia but more snow is definitely needed, particularly lower down, to set up these resorts for Christmas. Sadly there is no new snow in the short-medium term forecast, with mild and sunny weather expected next week across most of Eastern Europe.

Scotland

After an epic mid-November, the Scottish mountains have been subject to a bit of a temperature rollercoaster in recent weeks. The great news is that we’re now in a cold spell and some big snowfall totals have been picked up, enough for Glencoe to open on Friday and for potentially more ski areas to spin their lifts in the coming days. #

A lot of new snow is forecast over the weekend, potentially bringing 20-40cm of further snow to the mountains, but note that with strong winds expected this won’t be lying level once the skies clear! Monday looks like the day to get up in the hills – light winds and some sunny spells are expected. After that, cool and dry weather is forecast.

USA

Lots of snow was falling on Friday in Colorado, with plenty more expected by the time the snow stops falling on Sunday. As much as 30-60cm is possible, accompanied by bitterly cold temperatures – it looks set to be a classic powder weekend at resorts such as Aspen (where over 3000 acres are already open), Breckenridge and Vail. Next week looks very cold and sunny, providing ideal December conditions.

The same can be said for Utah, where just as much snow is expected over the weekend. There’s already a good base in place, so the fresh snow will lead to true powder conditions – especially at the likes of Snowbird and Alta, where the biggest totals are expected. Next week is looking very cold and sunny to provide perfect conditions for skiing.

Much needed snow has also fallen at Jackson Hole and Big Sky and also further west in the states of Oregon and Washington, both of which were off to a very slow start to the season. This is great news and bodes well for the upcoming holiday season. Cold and changeable weather is forecast for next week here.

Across on the East Coast, up to 30cm of new snow was recorded during the week, leading to great conditions at the likes of Stowe, Killington and Sunday River. Sadly, a mild blip is expected on Saturday and some heavy rain is forecast to hit all ski areas. This is then set to be followed by bitterly cold weather, leading to icy conditions on piste until fresh snow falls again – which is forecast for midweek.

Canada

It is a bit of a mixed bag in Canada at the moment, with Whistler on the west coast struggling somewhat for early season snowfall but Banff further east boasting good early-season conditions. A little snow is in the forecast for Whistler however, which is great news and hopefully more terrain will be added to the roster in the coming days. The same snowstorm is set to bring some fresh powder further inland in BC too at the likes of Silver Star and Big White, improving surface conditions further.

Over in Quebec, decent early season skiing is on offer, but wrap up warm as temperatures are well below freezing. This looks set to change on Monday however, when warm and wet conditions are set to persist for around 36 hours before temperatures drop back down on Tuesday – expect some icy pistes when they do.

Japan

Conditions have been transformed on Hokkaido and the regular winter pattern of 10-20cm falling each day has begun. This is fantastic news for the likes of Niseko, where in excess of a metre of new snow has been reported to really kick off the season. Further south in Hakuba the season is underway, but more snow is needed for more terrain to open up.