Lots of sunshine in the Alps

22nd March 2019, by Fraser Wilkin

Good snow cover in the Lenk-Adelboden area even if spring-conditions are the order of the day – 21 March 2019 – Photo: lenk.ch

Good snow cover in the Lenk-Adelboden area even if spring-conditions are the order of the day – 21 March 2019 – Photo: lenk.ch

Latest snow report from Weather to Ski

Updated: 5.40pm Thursday 21 March 2019

All things considered, snow conditions in the Alps are pretty good for late March. Base depths in the northern Alps are generally around or above average for the time of year, but they are generally below average in the southern Alps, although it is still possible to find some perfectly decent piste skiing here.

This week started cold in the Alps with some snow to low levels, especially in the northern and eastern Alps. The last of the flurries died away from Austria on Tuesday, and since then all parts of the Alps have enjoyed a period of mostly sunny weather with rising temperatures. The relative cold earlier in the week limited the extent and severity of any afternoon slush, but spring snow conditions increasingly prevail, especially on low slopes and those most exposed to the sun.

Temperatures will peak on Saturday with much colder air set to return early next week. Some places might even see some new snow on Monday and Tuesday, especially in Austria and eastern Switzerland.

Meanwhile, snow conditions across the pond have been relatively spring-like in many western US and Canadian resorts…

Snow depths in Austria remain healthy for late March, even in the lower resorts, although you should expect spring-snow conditions to prevail over the next few days.

For the most consistent snow quality you need to aim for higher resorts such as Ischgl (50/170cm) or Obertauern (230/250cm). However, even the likes of Saalbach 980/210cm) and Söll (80/160cm) will still be offering some excellent conditions over the next few days, so long as you are prepared for some slush later in the day.

It will turn colder again next week with new snow in places.

Great skiing on the high altitude pistes of Ischgl – 21 March 2019 – Photo: ischgl.com

Snow cover is now looking patchy in some of the low resorts of the southern French Alps, however, the northern two-thirds or so of the French Alps still have good cover for late March. Expect increasingly ‘freeze-thaw’ type snow conditions over the next few days, especially in lower resorts such as Megève (85/145cm) and Les Gets (50/160cm).

For the most consistent snow quality you need to be in higher resorts such as Val Thorens (210/290cm) and Tignes (124/220cm).

That said, it will turn colder again early next week, meaning that the daily “softening” process will become slower, at least for a time.

Excellent snow cover still in Les Saisies, despite its modest altitude – 21 March 2019 – Photo: lessaisies.com

Natural snow cover is now a bit patchy in some of the lower Italian resorts such as Sauze d’Oulx (30/60cm). However, even here there is some perfectly enjoyable piste skiing to be had, especially earlier in the day.

Higher up and further north, snow cover is more complete in the likes of Cervinia (65/220cm)and Livigno (85/215cm) though, even here, there will be something of a freeze-thaw process occurring over the next few days.

No new snow is expected in Italian resorts any time soon but, after a peak in temperatures on Saturday, it will turn colder again later in the weekend and especially early next week.

Excellent snow conditions for late March in Livigno – 21 March 2019 – Photo: livigno.eu

Snow conditions remain good across most Swiss resorts even if the warm spring sunshine forecast for the next few days will enhance the freeze-thaw cycle. This will particularly affect lower resorts such as Champéry (80/160cm) and Villars (30/185cm) but there will still be some excellent piste skiing on offer, especially in the early to middle part of the day.

For more consistent snow quality you need a resort with plenty of high north-facing slopes, such as Zermatt (35/205cm) or St Moritz-Corvatsch (65/175cm).

It will turn colder early next week with some snow, especially in the northern and eastern Swiss Alps.

Rest of Europe
Most Pyrenean resorts saw at least a little snow earlier in the week, but the weather has since settled down again with spring-snow conditions firmly on the agenda for the foreseeable future. Spain’s Baqueira Beret now has base depths of 105/185cm, while France’s Cauterets has 150/250cm.

Snow conditions in Scotland are challenging, to put it mildly, with strong winds and mild temperatures greatly reducing the snow cover as well as hampering lift operations. There is still some snow around, especially at altitude, but it remains to be seen how much will be open this weekend.

It’s better news in Scandinavia where there is still plenty of good skiing on offer. Norway’s Hemsedal, for example, is fully open with base depths of 90/130cm, while Sweden’s Åre has 75/90cm.

Very patchy snow cover in the Cairngorms following a spell of mild and very windy weather – 21 March 2019 – Photo: winterhighland.info

California has done well in recent days with 20-30cm of new snow in Mammoth, and more to come over the next few days.

Colorado has been drier but many resorts here are expecting a few centimetres of snow over the next few days, which should help freshen things up after what has been a relatively mild few days. Vail (208cm upper base), for example, is forecast to see around 15cm on Friday and Saturday before it turns sunny and warm again next week.

Good piste skiing in high altitude Breckenridge – 21 March 2019 – Photo: breckenridge.com

Whistler (235cm upper base) hasn’t seen much snow in recent days, and it has also been mild which has led to spring-like conditions on its lower slopes. It will turn colder with a little snow over the next few days, which should help to freshen things up, especially at altitude.

Further inland, it has also been warm in recent days. Lake Louise (131/164cm) has seen freezing levels as high as 3000m but will cool off considerably over the weekend. There will also be a little snow, most of which will fall on Tuesday evening.

Our next full snow report will be on Thursday 28 April 2019, but see Today in the Alps on weathertoski.co.uk for regular updates

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