Improving conditions but much more snow needed

11th December 2014, by Fraser Wilkin

Latest snow report from Weather To Ski

Updated: 10.15am Thursday 11 December 2014

Conditions have been slowly improving in many (but not all) parts of the Alps this week but we are still yet to see the massive dumps needed to properly ignite the early season.

The best snow cover remains at altitude in the southern Alps, from Isola 2000 in France across to Cervinia, Zermatt and Saas-Fee on the Swiss/Italian border, in parts of Lombardy (e.g. Livigno) and towards the western Dolomites (Passo Tonale). Some southern Austrian resorts closest to the Italian border (e.g. Obergurgl) are also in good shape.

In general, the northern Alps have less snow, though even here there is some reasonable piste skiing at altitude – for example, in Val Thorens in France, and Davos in Switzerland.

On the whole though, we are still massively behind the curve and lots more snow is needed to get the 2014-15 ski season back on track.

The greatest extent of skiing in Austria right now is to be found in Obergurgl (10/95cm) where 105km of its 110km of pistes are open and conditions are pretty good for the time of year.

Elsewhere in Austria the best skiing is to be found in resorts with glaciers such as Sölden (5/185cm), Kaprun (10/160cm) and Hintertux (15/195cm), all of which have a good selection of pistes available.

Most Austrian resorts are, however, still desperately short of snow including St Anton and Lech where their upper bases are little more than 10-15cm. Some runs will open here on Friday, we are told, but in a very limited capacity.

The forecast isn’t too promising either. A few very light flurries will affect the northern Austrian Alps today (Thursday). It will then turn milder over the weekend with the odd shower here and there, but no significant snow in prospect.

The greatest extent of skiing in France right now is in Val Thorens (50/90cm) where an impressive 47 pistes are open. The rest of the 3 Valleys (Courchevel, Méribel etc) will join the action tomorrow, but in a more limited capacity.

Val d’Isère (0/30cm) and Tignes (5/50cm) are also open – but remain unconnected for now with most (but not quite all) of the action confined to their respective glaciers.

A handful of other resorts in the French Alps are also operational, including Les 2 Alpes (2/80cm) and little known Isola 2000 (47/120cm) near Nice, where there is top to bottom cover and nearly half of its 130km of slopes are now open.

Further partial openings are due this weekend (Serre Chevalier says it will open 70km of its area) but, on the whole, there is still a serious snow deficit and much more is needed to get the season back on track.

Unfortunately there isn’t a huge amount of snow in the immediate forecast – some very light flurries close to the northern foothills today then bits and pieces over the weekend, but nothing really significant.

There is still plenty of good skiing available in Italy if you know where to look. Best of all is Cervinia (30/215cm) where over 213km of its runs are now open (shared with Zermatt), easily the greatest extent in the Alps right now.

Other good bets are Livigno (120/125cm) where some 23 runs are open, Passo Tonale (30/350cm) and Champoluc (5/260cm).

Generally speaking though, most resorts are still short of snow with much more needed before the Christmas rush, particularly below 2000m. There is a little snow forecast here and there this weekend but it remains to be seen in what quantities.

Rest of Europe
Snow has been falling in the Pyrenees with vastly improved conditions in the likes of Soldeu, Andorra (30/70cm) where a good proportion of the area is now open. 

Scandinavia also has plenty of open resorts with some of the best skiing in Hemsedal, Norway (71cm mid-mountain) thanks to the big storms a couple of weeks back.

Bulgaria’s season is underway, albeit in a very limited capacity, with just two runs open in Bansko.

Meanwhile things are looking promising in Scotland with snow starting to pile up, though no resorts are operational here as yet.

Colorado resorts have seen very little snow in the last week but there remains some reasonable piste skiing in the likes of Vail (51cm mid-mountain) and Winter Park (53cm mid-mountain) thanks to multiple storms back in November.

It’s a similar story in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (134cm mid-mountain) and Snowbird, Utah (74cm mid-mountain), though both these areas can expect some new snow in the next few days.

Talking of new snow, long-suffering Californian resorts are in for a treat with more than 50cm in places later today - which should greatly improve conditions in the likes of Mammoth (56cm mid-mountain).

Nearly all lifts are open in the Banff/Lake Louise area now where the base is 89/93cm depending on altitude, and conditions are excellent for the time of year.

Further west, Whistler (61cm mid mountain) has been experiencing some rain lower down, but colder air is now digging in with new snow to lower altitudes, which should improve conditions.

Next full snow report will be on Thursday 18 December 2014, but see Today in the Alps on for daily updates

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