As tour operators prepare to start their winter ski programmes, conditions in European resorts remain mixed, with a shortage of snow in much of the northern Alps, especially for those resorts at lower altitudes.
Much of Austria, as well as some French resorts are in need of a substantial snowstorm before they can begin operations across much of their terrain. Luckily, this is expected over the weekend.
Conditions are much better in the US, where Mammoth, Squaw Valley and Utah’s resorts have received the best of the snow in the past few days.
Here’s a more detailed round up from the Ski Club of Great Britain.
Conditions continued to be lacklustre across much of Austria due to lack of snow at lower altitudes. Conditions in Mayrhofen look to be more favourable than much of the rest of Austria, thanks to the elevation and supplemental snowmaking.
Zell am Zee Kaprun saw some of the highest snowfall in the past week, with 35cm over four days at the highest altitudes. Though only 28km of slopes were open, the coverage at least made what could be skied very enjoyable, with some limited off-piste opportunities.
The good news is that the storm currently beginning to deposit snow over much of the Alps is expected to provide a substantial improvement in the conditions over Austria. Fresh snow will fall most heavily in the Arlberg region, as well as resorts close to the Swiss border. Dropping temperatures will also result in good quantities of snow falling down into the valleys, which is welcome news for the lower altitude resorts.
Alpe dHuez got some snow at resort level this week, as did Les Deux Alpes, although snow on the lower slopes is still fairly wet.
Val d’Isere and Tignes continue to offer good ski conditions with the latter getting 10cm of fresh snow.
Over in the Milky Way ski area on the French/Italian Border, Mongenevre was boasting very good conditions, and an impressive snowpack starting to build on the upper slopes.
Plenty of snow is being forecast right across France for the coming weekend, with resorts around the Tarantaise and Mont Blanc expecting sizeable accumulations on Sunday.
Swiss resorts continued to offer some of the best conditions in Europe, having benefitted both from the snow in November as well as the storm that began to impact the Alps on Thursday. Engelberg got 5cms while Verbier reported a dusting of 3cm over the upper slopes. Snow was also falling on Zermatt, building on an already substantial base.
The storm arriving over the Alps this weekend is expected to deliver the heaviest snow over much of Switzerland. If the current forecasts are accurate, expect a substantial improvement in conditions across much of the country, including Davos/Klosters, the Jungfrau region as well as the typical snow magnets like Engelberg and Zermatt. This will be welcome news for the number of resorts due to open this weekend.
Fresh snow fell in much of the more western and most northerly ski areas this week, coming down especially heavily over resorts such as Livigno and Bormio, leading to great conditions. Courmayeur, Pila, and Cervinia continue to benefit from some of the best snow in the alps.
Further south, Sestriere was the first resort to open in the Milky Way ski area, though only with a small proportion of its terrain operational.
Conditions are perhaps best in Arcalis, where 11/16 lifts are in operation, serving 20/28 pistes.
The forecast for the weekend looks set for a continuation of current sun, with temperatures hovering around freezing. Wednesday 12th is currently predicted to bring small amounts of snow across Vallnord and Grandvalira.
In Norway, Hemsedal reported a welcome 16cm on December 3, with good coverage despite a thin base. Smaller amounts of snow came down around Lillehammer.
Over in Sweden, Salen enjoyed similar conditions, with 16cm of snow over the past three days, though only a smattering of runs were available to ski as of December 6.
Bansko continued to run 2/14 lifts on Thursday, though conditions are far from ideal. Skiing is only available on the mid-mountain, with slopes at town level and up high at Todorka both closed. Elsewhere in Bulgaria, Borovets is due to open on December 12.
Utah saw the lion’s share of the most recent snowfall in North America. In Canada, there are great conditions across Alberta, with clear but cool days in Banff resulting in great snow conditions across all three resorts.
After some rainfall, temperatures dropped over Quebec, allowing precipitation over Mont Sainte Anne. A fresh storm coming up over the Pacific North West is expected to provide some welcome snowfall to Whistler.
Niseko reported 4cm of snowfall overnight, a light dusting of coverage over an otherwise solid base, thanks to dropping temperatures. 12 lifts were spinning across four of the ski areas, with only the Grand Hirafu offering a wide variety of terrain. The coming weekend should see an improvement in conditions, with temperatures staying low and fresh snowfall on the horizon.
Based on current weather forecasts for the next nine days, the top three resorts for expected snowfall are:
1) Lech, Austria, 192 cm
2) Zurs, Austria, 191cm
3) St Anton, Austria, 190cm