Snow overview: 11 April
As so often can happen in April winter returns when you least expect it. And after weeks of dry warm weather, the high Alps are getting lots of fresh snow this week. It is significantly cooler too. Some snow fell over Easter weekend, mainly in Austria. Now most places are getting a taste of winter, with French resorts receiving the lion’s share on Wednesday and in significant quantities. While our report focuses on where the snow has fallen and the high areas, there has been lots of rain too – which has inevitably taken its toll on many low lying pistes.
Snowfalls are forecast to continue intermittently for much of this week and return more prominently at the weekend. So, high areas are offering exceptionally good skiing conditions now and the new snow is helping to prolong the season for some lower lying resorts. After this weekend, the slopes should be significantly quieter too – good news for those resorts open until the end of April and beyond.
Easter brought welcome snowfalls to many Austrian resorts, with resorts in the west averaging 20cm or thereabouts. Slushy snow refroze and got a nice layer of powder on top at altitude. Ischgl, Solden, Obergurgl and St Anton all have plentiful skiing above 2000m and are the places to head for the best of the April snow, along with the high glacier resorts of Dachstein, Hintertux, Stubai and Pitztal. Austria’s generally good season has meant that the lower lying resorts have enjoyed a longer than average season; despite heavy rain Kitzbühel has 10cm new snow up top and 16 lifts/24 slopes still open. The SkiWelt, however, has now closed for the season.
Heavy overnight snowfalls on Wednesday have transformed French resorts, notably in the southern Alps where Serre Chevalier and Montgenèvre awoke to 30-50cm fresh powder, down to 1400m. With skies clearing, the scene looks more like mid-winter than April, even in the villages. Further north, Tignes has 12-25cm new snow, Val d’Isère is 85% open and Les Arcs and La Plagne picked up 20cm powder. More snow is forecast for Saturday and the freezing level could fall to 1200m. Some of the deepest snow is in Chamonix’s Grand Montets sector (350cm), which has 10-15cm new snow and remains open until 8 May.
Italian resorts are beginning to wind down for the season, so the fresh snowfall in the Dolomites is a little late but can be enjoyed for a few more days; Selva, for example, closes on 15 April. Looks like the last week of the season may prove one of the best, with quiet slopes and new powder. Typical accumulations have been 20-30cm on the upper mountain. Heavy snow has also fallen across western areas, in Piemont and the Aosta Valley; Cervinia is a good late season choice and reports 25-35cm new snow, with an upper snowpack of 285cm.
Swiss resorts welcomed a return to winter conditions and refreshed pistes this week, although it has not been as cold here as elsewhere. Snow fell on Easter weekend and there have been further accumulations mid week, mostly above 1500-1800m. Visibility has been a problem in the low cloud and showers, but the end of the week looks brighter before more snow is expected on Saturday. The pick of the late bunch are Zermatt, with 5-30cm new snow, Verbier (8-10cm), Engelberg (still reporting 5m snow on the top slopes) and Samnaun (sharing slopes with Ischgl); all giving very good skiing at present. The next few days look generally unsettled, with the best chance of snow towards the south and south-east.
Resorts in North America are beginning to close for the season; those still open in Canada (such as Banff, Whistler and Fernie) are enjoying some warmer weather at last. But the heavy snowfalls of recent weeks means good cover abounds under brighter skies. Banff’s three areas are fully open, with mid-mountain cover exceeding 2m. South in the US, while some Utah areas announced earlier closing than usual due to a lean season, some snow has returned to Colorado where places such as Vail and Breckenridge really needed it. Sadly, it is all a little too late to be of much use. The snow has kept falling in California, where wind affected some uplift over Easter week; but there is a little new snow too. Northstar and Heavenly have the deepest cover and most terrain available.
Look out for short updates and summaries and news changes around the Alps for the late season resorts.