Snow snippets: 27 March

27th March 2012, by Chris Gill

Sunny day in Lech, but the snow is still good

Sunny day in Lech, but the snow is still good

European summary

It’s another week of slipping into lighter layers, slapping on the sunnies and slopping on the factor 50, as Europe continues to bask under a stubborn high pressure. The sun is out right across the Alps, although there is a hint that things are set to cool down as the weekend approaches. Current forecasts suggest some snow for the northern regions, mainly Austria and eastern Switzerland. Parts of France are expecting a change too, but the south and Italy should stay largely dry. Soft and slushy snow is the predominant feature of the skiing now, although north-facing and shadier runs present a better surface first thing. And the snow firms up overnight, so catch it early for the best quality.

There was some snow last weekend, in resorts as far apart as St Anton and Serre Chevalier, but nowhere near enough to transform slushy, spring-like pistes – and most resorts have had no fresh snow now for some time. Cover remains good generally, with the majority of pistes still open and rock-free. Some of the best skiing is to be had in Austria and in the high French resorts, where snow depths remain respectable for the time of year.

The extremely high skiing of Zermatt and Saas Fee in Switzerland is among the best to be found there, as well as Andermatt, Engelberg and Samnaun – which could catch the best of any weekend snowfall. In contrast, Italian resorts are battling against the spring thaw. The best skiing there can be found in the high resorts of the Aosta Valley, such as Cervinia and La Thuile, which got a dusting of new snow to start the week. Amazingly, resorts in the eastern Dolomites continue to offer decent skiing amid their increasingly brown hillsides (notably in the Sella Ronda regions). The Pyrenees remain in good shape after new snowfall, with some powder still to be found in Pas de la Casa and Soldeu for example; while eastern Europe is getting by.

North American summary

In the US, resorts in California have all had worthwhile snowfalls to give them good late season skiing. Spring has sprung in Colorado and taken a firm grip of resorts in New England – which have endured a rapid thaw and gradual piste closures. Some resorts there have closed entirely for the season. Big Sky Montana and Jackson Hole Wyoming have a 40-60% chance of further snowfalls by the weekend a cooler weather system moves in.

The star of the winter is Canada, where resorts in the west have now broken more records. Sunshine Village so far has notched up a total of 900cm+ snowfall this winter, its best ever. More snow is forecast there and for Whistler during this week – where it remains fairly cold. Conditions couldn’t be much better for late March.

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