2010: the snowiest resorts?

24th August 2010, by Fraser Wilkin

No, not the Alps ... nor the US .... this is Cairngorm powder: Scotland 2010

No, not the Alps ... nor the US .... this is Cairngorm powder: Scotland 2010

With long-range forecasts predicting a La Nina winter, possibly bringing snowier-than-average weather to the Pacific Northwest and Rockies, we take a quick look back on last season: where North America didn’t score many aces for its white dumps overall, and the Alps were predominently cloudy. Italy impressed though, as did the Pyrenees too … And who can forget Scotland’s incredible winter? We asked our forecast guru Fraser Wilkin to sum up the season …

Courmayeur outshone most [(c) Dave Watts]

THE ALPS – Cold, cloudy but not particularly snowy

Last season was decent enough for most areas, though Austria did slip out of its comfort zone at times. Kitzbuhel’s 1.3m was only half what it would normally expect, and this was typical of many low Austrian resorts whose season was only saved by the relentless cold. Further west, the reliably snowy Arlberg fared better, but 4.9m for St Anton’s Galzig (2200m) was still well below par – in contrast to nearby Warth-Schröcken which racked up around a third more; but then we’ve reported before that the resort is one of the Alps’ snowiest overall.

Like Austria, Switzerland didn’t see a huge amount of snow, but as the skiing here is generally higher most resorts can still reflect on a solid if unspectacular season. Barely 2m fell in Zermatt, but on-piste at least conditions were considered ok.

There were few complaints in France, despite a sluggish start. Tignes’ 5.1m was a little below average, but regular snowfalls and persistent cold made for some excellent skiing in the middle part of the season. It was better still further south with 6.4m for Isola 2000, its second snowiest winter on record.

For the second year running, Italy was the pick of the Alpine countries with generally above average snowfall. Courmayeur stood out with 7.7m at 2200m, nearly twice the average in this rather dry corner of the Alps. Further east, the Dolomites took longer to get going, but Arabba (1600m) eventually impressed with 4.4m (av 3.8m).

April was pretty good in the Pyrenees [(c) W King]

NORTH AMERICA – Generally below par but with some notable exceptions

Only the Pacific north-west (14.6m for Whistler) and the south-western U.S. (14.2m for Mammoth) clocked above average snowfalls. Big name Rocky Mountain resorts struggled to impress, despite an unusually snowy spring. Vail’s 7.2m and Jackson Hole’s 7.4m were only three-quarters of their long-term average.

SCOTLAND – Sometimes they get it very good indeed

We should also make a special mention of Scotland, which not only managed its coldest winter since 1963, but also one of its snowiest, with 7.5m on Cairngorm culminating in some (very limited) summer solstice skiing.

Average looks pretty good too – Fernie, Canada Jan 2010 [(c) Dave Watts]

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