Snow snippets: 5 March

5th March 2012, by Chris Gill

Revelstoke, Canada

Revelstoke, Canada

We forecast snow last week, and it duly arrived. Much of the Alps saw a return to winter on Monday, with a sharp cooling off of the recent high temperatures – bit of a shock to the system if you have been basking under the blue skies of late. But it’s welcome news for the slopes that need a refresh.

Initially the freezing level was around 1300m, but has since dipped to around 500m. So far only a modest few centimetres has fallen, but more is expected overnight. Then it will brighten up before a second spell of wintry weather is forecast for later this week, on Thursday.

At the moment, Switzerland looks to gain most from this second front and eastern Italy the least – although it is currently snowing in the Dolomites and the colder weather will also mean that snowmaking can resume. Here, the remainder of the week is expected to be brighter and largely dry.

In France, it felt much colder on Monday with temperatures dipping well below zero. Typically the key resorts such as Tignes, Flaine, Paradiski and Chamonix got 15-20cm new snow. Similar accumulations were reported in Switzerland, where Verbier and Engelberg received over 15cm.

Over the next few days, Swiss resorts – notably those in the east (Davos, Laax, Arosa etc) – are set to get the most snow. This could be 30-40cm in parts if the forecast is correct; certainly the weather looks unsettled on Thursday. Temperatures fell away very sharply, with minus 10 to minus 15 in a couple of spots.

Austria still leads the way on consistently decent snowfalls; there was new snow around Innsbruck on Monday, as well as in the Arlberg yet again (5-10cm in St Anton). Quantities were fewer than elsewhere, and it took a while for rain to turn to snow in some of the lower resorts, but Axamer Lizum and Kuhtai for example got good powder. Visibility was poor in areas that lack trees, with low cloud hanging around for much of the day and strong winds reported in (for example) Serfaus – which is higher and more exposed. Scattered snow showers are also forecast for Austria on Thursday. Further east, there was more cloud but little or no snowfall – as in Bad Gastein.

There was good news for the Italian Dolomites too, which have largely missed out on the main snowfalls recently. So far a few centimetres has fallen in the Sella Ronda and Trentino regions, where slopes badly needed a top-up. Further west, light snow flurries are still falling in the Aosta Valley on Tuesday morning; a few more centimetres predicted. Temperatures in Cervinia are minus 12. Champoluc claimed 15cm snow at village level overnight.

In Canada the big powder fest continues. Western resorts are in the midst of a fresh storm, dumping lots of powder in Revelstoke (40cm in 24hrs) and over 80cm new snow to Banff in the past three days. It remains cold and unsettled here, while in the US they are expecting a quieter week after recent snowfalls. That should help the new stuff to pack down nicely.

Snowing in the Alps again. This is Zermatt on Monday 5 March

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