Winter 2012-2013 — a vintage ski season for snow

16th September 2013, by Fraser Wilkin

The big story in Europe was Cauterets in the Pyrenees, where 16m of snow fell

The big story in Europe was Cauterets in the Pyrenees, where 16m of snow fell

What a winter!  Although not everyone saw record-breaking snowfall, nowhere in the Alps (or in most or Europe) did badly and for many 2012-13 was a truly vintage season.

Unlike in 2011-12, there were few pre-season nerves and by late November most high (and some low) resorts had already established a decent base. December then saw a succession of massive snow storms barrel into the north-western Alps with the likes of Verbier and Avoriaz reporting near record pre-Christmas depths. The snow fell further east too, but (generally speaking) in more modest quantities, a theme that was to continue for much of the season.

January remained unsettled with occasional milder interludes bringing rain to some lower resorts. But there was no shortage of snow, particularly at altitude where it continued to pile up in impressive quantities. February was less snowy, but much colder with the best of the sunshine in the southern Alps. It warmed up a little in March, but this was the year that spring never arrived and there were further snowfalls throughout April (even May). 

Overall, snowfall was above average across the entire western Alps with 7.95m for Val d’Isère, fourth on its all-time list and nearly 3m above average. In Switzerland, Verbier’s Ruinette station (2200m) also impressed with 8.9m, its third snowiest ever season. Snowiest of all, however, was Avoriaz with a massive 11.8m (average 7.6m), second only to 1994/95. Snowfall was more modest in the eastern Alps — 6.9m for Lech is slightly below average — but you wouldn’t have known it, such was the regularity with which it fell.

Elsewhere in Europe the big story was in the Pyrenees where an astonishing 16m fell in Cauterets (at 2000m) and nearby resorts were cut off for days on end.

Many US resorts had another modest winter, though things did pick up in Colorado later in the season.  Western Canada fared better with generally above average snowfall — Whistler received 10.9m at mid elevations, some 20% above par. 

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