Spring snow conditions dominate the agenda
Latest snow report from Weather to Ski
Updated: 9.20pm Thursday 30 March 2017
Spring snow conditions have dominated the agenda this week - though it has still been possible to find powder high up in the western Alps (e.g. Val d’Isère) following last weekend’s storm. For most, however, freeze-thaw cycles have been the order of the day, with hard early snow softening up at a rate dependent on altitude and orientation.
East and south-east facing slopes are the first to soften up with the early sun, followed by south- then west-facing slopes. It has been possible to ski on cold “wintry “ snow all day long, but only on high north-facing slopes – above about 2200m earlier in the week but now closer to 2600m.
This weekend will see the weather turn cooler with some snow in the western Alps. In most cases this won’t amount to very much but some significant falls are again possible in the high border areas between Italy and France, especially from about Val d’Isère southwards.
The best overall snow conditions right now are in, and will continue to be in, the higher resorts of the western Alps, such as Val d’Isère, Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Val Thorens, Cervinia, Monte Rosa, Montgenèvre.
By contrast, low resorts (right across the Alps) are struggling with the high temperatures and increasingly patchy snow cover. It is still possible to find some enjoyable skiing in the likes of La Clusaz, Villars, Grindelwald, Kitzbühel and Saalbach, but the window of opportunity for good quality snow is much shorter each day than it is in the higher resorts.
The weather in the Austrian Alps has been spring-like for quite some time now, which means that natural snow cover is now very patchy or non-existent at low altitudes. You can still find some enjoyable piste skiing in the likes of Kitzbühel (0/92cm) but you have to time your runs right as the snow softens up fast in the strong March sun.
For the most consistent snow quality, you need to head higher to the likes of Obergurgl (18/97cm) or Ischgl (0/110cm) but even here there is slush later in the day, at least lower down.
No significant snow is forecast over the next few days.
Snow conditions are very mixed across the French Alps right now. Snow cover is still excellent at altitude, with base depths of 30/200cm in Val Cenis and 48/205cm in Les Arcs. Lower down, however, natural cover is patchy in the likes of Morzine (0/70cm) and Megève (0/100cm).
You can still find some decent piste skiing if you time your runs carefully, but the slopes are invariably slushy later in the day and there is no off-piste to speak of.
Some snow is expected in the French Alps this weekend, mostly above 1600-1800m.
The best snow cover and snow conditions are in the higher resorts of the western Italian Alps, where base depths are 0/220cm in the Monte Rosa region and 30/210cm in Cervinia. Even here, however, the runs are turning slushy at lower altitude as the day progresses.
Natural snow cover is patchier lower down, especially in the Dolomites where many resorts, such as Corvara (25cm upper base) are due to close this weekend.
This weekend will also see snow falling in the western Italian Alps, but in what quantities remains to be seen.
View from the slopes of Laax this afternoon, 30 March 2017. Pic: laax.com
Most Swiss ski resorts remain in full spring mode, which means that the most consistent snow quality remains in the highest resorts such as Zermatt (0/180cm) and Saas-Fee (25/250cm) where there is plenty of skiing above 3000m.
Lower down, it is still possible to find some enjoyable piste skiing in the likes of Adelboden (0/90cm) and Villars (0/130cm), but slush is more of an issue as the day progresses.
Some snow is forecast for the weekend, mostly in the western Swiss Alps and probably not in any huge quantity.
Rest of Europe
Snow conditions in the Pyrenees are generally very good for late March, at least at altitude, with base depths of 110/150cm in Andorra’s Pas de La Casa and 90/210cm in Spain’s Baqueira Beret.
Most Scandinavian resorts haven’t seen any significant snow in a while but there is still plenty of decent skiing around, particularly on-piste, with 50/110cm in Norway’s Lillehammer and an upper base of 85cm in Finland’s Levi.
Scottish skiing remains limited to patchy snow cover in just three resorts (Cairngorm, Glencoe and Nevis Range), none of which have upper depths of more than 20cm.
Snow conditions remain good across most western US resorts with fresh snow over the last few days and more in the forecast. Colorado’s Winter Park, for example, is expecting over 50cm on Friday with another significant fall due early next week.
In Utah, Alta (322cm upper base) is also doing well, with nearly 60cm reported in the last seven days and further snow falling at the time of writing.
Great late season snow conditions in Whistler. Pic: whistlerblackcomb.com
Whistler’s fabulous late season conditions continue with another 80cm clocked up over the last week. 11.2m of snow has now fallen this season at altitude, and the base is currently 3.5m deep.
Interior resorts are also enjoying excellent skiing, with 226cm of snow packed down on the upper pistes in the Banff area and nearly 296cm in Revelstoke.
Next full snow report will be on Thursday 6 April 2017, but see Today in the Alps on weathertoski.co.uk for regular updates