SPRING CONDITIONS ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS
It's a mixed picture across the Alps with warm temperatures taking their toll. However there is some snow in the forecast. Over in North America the snow continues to fall. NEW & UPDATED
Thursday March 16, 2017 - Email this article to a friend
It has been spring-like across parts of the Alps with the freezing level at 3,000m in places.
There is still some good coverage but again there is restricted off piste skiing opportunities.
PlanetSKI has just arrived in Andorra in the Pyrenees and things are looking pretty good for the time of year.
Andorra, The Pyrenees
Andorra, The Pyrenees
Andorra, The Pyrenees
Check out the video snow report from our editor, James Cove:
We have a full report with all the details lower down this article from Fraser Wilkin at weathertoski.co.uk that was filed last Thursday.
Meanwhile PlanetSKI's Chief Reporter, Jane Peel, is in Montgenèvre in France, on the Italian border.
"Sunday was a beautifully sunny day but it was also very warm," she said.
"It was a day to leave off the layers and open up all the vents! The snow was very soft from quite early on but it was still quite pleasant to ski on. However, by mid-afternoon it had become very heavy and cut up."
Montgenèvre on Sunday
On Tuesday Jane headed across the border to Italy to ski the Via Lattea, or Milky Way.
"We started out in Sestriere where the pistes were very hard early in the morning and, to be frank, they could have been better groomed," she said. "There were ridges and lumps from the piste bashers all over several of the runs.
"By the team we reached Sauze d'Oulx and San Sicario the warm sunshine had softened things up nicely. There have been more clouds today, though, and this afternoon it definitely turned a little cooler than it has been. The locals are talking of a big storm coming in later in the week."
The Milky Way, Italy, on Tuesday
Last week James Cove was in Cortina in the The Dolomites in Italy.
He was attending the International Ski Travel Market, ISTM, that he reported about here.
There have generally been been poor levels of snow this winter in this part of the Dolomites and the lower slopes were closed.
Higher up though there was some decent cover on piste.
And at the top there was good coverage on the man-made slopes though it became slushy in the warm temperatures as the day progressed.
The photo above is the start of the World Cup run and here is PlanetSKI's Katie Bamber on the top section of the course.
With James trying to keep up with is camera.
Our full and detailed snow report below, that was filed on Thursday 16th March comes from Fraser Wilkin at www.weathertoski.co.uk.
The weather in the Alps has been decidedly spring-like this week which means that snow conditions are very mixed, with freeze-thaw conditions being the order of the day, especially lower down.
Some new snow is expected at altitude this weekend, mostly across the Swiss and Austrian Alps.
However, it won't be particularly cold, which means that rain will also be in the mix lower down.
The rain/snow limit will start at close to 2000m, but later on Saturday will fall to around 1300-1600m in the north-western Alps, and to 1000-1500m in the north-eastern Alps (i.e. Austria).
It will become rather soggy lower down.
The heaviest precipitation will be on Saturday, from the central Swiss Alps (e.g. Mürren/Engelberg) eastwards into Austria (away from the far south).
These regions will see between 10cm and 40cm of new snow above 1800m, locally a little bit more (e.g. at altitude in the Arlberg).
By contrast, the extreme western Swiss Alps, as well as the northern French Alps (e.g. Chamonix), will see no more than a dusting at altitude.
Many southern parts of the Alps (i.e. most of Italy) will miss out on the precipitation altogether.
Snow conditions in Austria have been become increasingly spring-like this week, although it has been fractionally cooler than in the western Alps.
Resorts with plenty of north-facing terrain above 2000m can still offer firm snow for much of the day.
Obergurgl now has settled snow depths of 45/165cm, while Zürs has 80/170cm.
However, lower resorts such as Söll (55/65cm) and Saalbach (30/70cm) are seeing a more pronounced free-thaw cycle.
Snow is forecast on Saturday but it will only be significant above about 1500m.
Still plenty of snow at altitude in the Hintertux area – 16 March 2017 – Photo: foto-webcam.eu
Snow conditions in the French Alps are mixed right now, with free-thaw conditions in full swing, especially lower down and in areas exposed to the sun.
The snow is naturally remaining firmest for longest in resorts with plenty of high, north-facing terrain, such as Tignes (110/230cm) and Arc 2000 (75/230cm).
Lower down, however, the daily variation in snow quality is more acute in the likes of Megève (45/160cm) and La Clusaz (15/155cm).
Some northern French resorts may see a dusting of snow at altitude over the weekend, but it won't be significant.
Reasonable cover still at altitude in the Portes du Soleil. This is Châtel – 16 March 2017 – Photo: chatel.com
Spring is well and truly in control across the Italian Alps.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Dolomites where there is virtually no natural snow at lower altitudes.
That said, you can still find some decent piste skiing in the likes of Selva (20/45cm) and Cortina (15/50cm), thanks to the extensive artificial bases laid down earlier in the season.
The best snow conditions are, however, at altitude in the western Italian Alps where base depths are now 70/170cm (depending on altitude) in Cervinia and 50/220cm in La Thuile.
Beautiful spring weather in the Dolomites. This is Kronplatz – 16 March 2017 – Photo: kronplatz.com
Just as everywhere else in the Alps, spring snow conditions have dominated Swiss ski resorts in recent days, especially at lower altitude.
You can still find some very enjoyable skiing in the likes of Wengen (10/100cm) and Les Diablerets (40/150cm), but timing is key as the snow softens up fast on slopes exposed to the sun.
For a little more consistent snow quality, it pays to be in a resort with plenty of north-facing terrain above 2200m, such as Zermatt (5/170cm) or Saas-Fee (30/225cm).
Snow is expected in many Swiss resorts this weekend, especially in the north and east, but only in significant quantities above about 1600-1800m.
View over the snowboard park in Laax today – 16 March 2017 – Photo: laax.com
Rest of Europe
Snow cover is still good in the higher Pyrenean resorts, with 100/160cm in Andorra's Pas de la Casa, for example, though snow quality is a little mixed due to the mild temperatures.
Most Norwegian ski resorts have seen new snow in the last few days, heaviest in the west where base depths in Voss are a respectable 65/105cm.
Scottish skiing is on hold again, however, with mild weather and only very patchy snow cover.
Decent snow cover at altitude still in the Pyrenees. This is Peyragudes – 16 March 2017 – Photo: peyragudes.com
The weather is unsettled in Whistler (298cm upper base) right now, with further snow due over the next few days, though also some rain at lower altitudes.
Further inland, Banff also has fresh snow and base depths of 150/227cm depending on altitude.
It has also been mild in the western US which means that snow quality is also quite spring-like in many resorts.
Snow cover remains healthy, however, with upper base depths of 620cm in California's Squaw Valley, 318cm in Utah's Snowbird and 384cm in Wyoming's Jackson Hole.
Lots of snow at all level still in Jackson Hole – 16 March 2017 – Photo: jacksonhole.com
For daily weather bulletins from Fraser then follow it all at www.weathertoski.co.uk.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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