World snow update 17th Feb

Wed 17 February 10

* Bring a snorkel for ‘shoulder deep’ skiing in Niseko. Snow on the ground in all 50 US states for the first time since 1977, More snow in Madrid, Europe’s Most Southerly Ski Areas Reports up to 4m of snow, Another foot of snow on Scotland’s ski slopes, best season in 30 years continues.

World snow update 17th Feb

World snow update 17th Feb © Photo: Baqueira Beret tourism

www.Skiinfo.co.uk reports that despite the fluctuating weather conditions in Vancouver for the Olympic Games, most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is reporting great ski conditions.

Mt Washington, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic training site close to the Games sites is currently leading the world with the greatest reported snow accumulation of 4.6m (15.3 feet) to date. Mount Washington also had the most snow in the past week with nearly 90cm (three feet) more. In the US all 50 states reported snow lying at some point on their terrain during Valentine’s day.

In Europe Chamonix, France, Passo Tonale, Italy and the continent’s most southerly major resort, Sierra Nevada on the Spanish Mediterranean coast each have around 4m of accumulated snow. There has been much less snow in Europe this week than last, but that is expected to change in the next few days with more snow coming, and in any case conditions are generally excellent because of the accumulations already there.
In Asia, the Japanese resort of Niseko reported ‘shoulder deep’ powder with one local advising visitors planning to ski it to make sure they had brought a snorkel.

There has been limited fresh snowfall in the Alps over the past five days, but that is expected to change in the next few days and the first few powder alarms for 20cm (8 inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours have been issued this morning by several Swiss resorts.

On Thursday last week heavy snowfalls of up to 60cm (two feet) were reported from Austria. Since then the high avalanche risk has been lowering again (though still considerable in some regions like Tirol or Steiermark) and today lucky skiers and boarders across the country are enjoying good skiing conditions with sunny slopes in many places.

Last Thursday brought 30 powder alarms to Austria. The biggest snowfalls took place in Carinthia where 60cm (two feet) was reported from smaller resorts like Flattnitz or Petzen. Bad Kleinkirchheim and Dachstein West also had 20-30cm in 24 hours.

The Mölltaler glacier has the most snow in the country at 3.5m (nearly 12 feet), with St. Anton am Arlberg second with 240cm (eight feet).

In Switzerland the most snow was reported from Eigenthal with 90cm (three feet) in seven days. Beatenberg also had 60cm (two feet). Bigger resorts like Laax, Saas Fee, Zermatt and Davos usually had 8-15cm (3-6 inches) during the week.

Today there’s a dozen Swiss resorts reporting snow depths of two metres or more, including Saas Fee, St Moritz and Laax. Engelberg is on top of the list with 255cm (8.5 feet).

In Germany many resorts have seen 20-35cm of new snow in seven days. The resorts in the uplands of the East, Southeast and the Centre were reporting bigger snowfalls than the German Alps. Grasgehren and Oberstdorf - Nebelhorn in the Allgäu both have 190cm (over six feet) of snow on their upper slopes though and the top snow depth is at the Zugspitzplatt with 205cm (6.5 feet).

Elsewhere in the Alps it has been ‘quiet’ for new snowfall in France and Italy, although Serre Chevalier has reported 12cm (five inches) of new snow so far today, and Chamonix continues to have some of the deepest snow depths in Europe, with more than 3.8m (Nearly 13 feet) lying on upper slopes.

In Italy more snow is expected in the coming days. Arabba has had the most snow in the country for the past seven days with 45cm accumulated and it has some of the deepest snow in the country too, although the glacier at Passo Tonale continues to boast the deepest snow depth in Europe with 4.2m (14 feet).

In Spain it's snowing again in Madrid and the novelty of that is wearing off after multiple snowfalls in the Spanish capital. It’s good news for skiers wanting to visit the nearby ski hills too and has increased business at the city’s indoor snow centre as people think more about winter sports. More snowfall is expected through the remainder of the week in Spanish ski resorts.

Sierra Nevada to the south is now reporting up to four metres (13.3 feet) of snow on its upper slopes (the deepest snow in Spain and close to the deepest in the world) and has 99 km of runs open. The weather conditions have meant a dramatic increase in the avalanche risk in Sierra Nevada making off piste skiing especially dangerous.

In the Pyrenees Baqueira just inaugurated a new snowpark for boarder and skier fun, it has up to 195cm (6.5 feet) of snow and 110 km of piste open. Formigal has the most piste open in the country, with 136km and snow depth up to 220cm (7.6 feet). Most other ski areas have between 1.5 and 2.2m (5-7.3 feet) of snow lying .

Baqueira Beret Snowpark
Baqueira Beret Snowpark
Photo: Baqueira Beret tourism

Conditions are reported to be generally good in Andorra too with some fresh snow and upper slope base depths of 1-1.8m (3.3-6 feet).

At the other end of Europe, Scandinavia has seen more snow, if not so much as previous weeks. There’s been some new snow in Sweden with Åmål and Ramundberget ski areas both receiving 15cm (six inches) and the leading resort Åre 11cm (four inches).

The country’s greatest snow depth is in Tänndalen with 120cm (four feet). But this will soon change since Riksgränsen, the worlds northern most ski resort known for its midnight sun due to open in two days. They also have 120cm (four feet) at the moment. So great skiing conditions all over the country and more snow is expected in the middle of Sweden on Friday.

Across the North Sea, Scotland’s ski areas have had a good top up of snow over the past 36 hours and its still falling, more than a foot of new snow is on the slopes meaning the ski centres are continuing to have one of the best winters for 30 years.

Down in Eastern Europe conditions are the best so far this season in many resorts, following ggood snowfalls over the past week. Bulgarian resorts are now reporting up to 1.8m (six feet) of snow accumulated after a thin start to the season in several centres.
Across the Atlantic, with fresh snow right across North America, it’s the US and Canada that have seen the most fresh snow of the past seven days anywhere in the world.

Falls have been particularly heavy on the West coast and while there has been rain at lower elevations causing major headaches for Olympic organisers, Whistler has actually seen some of the most snow in the world in the past week with 68cm (2.3 feet) accumulated on middle and upper elevations.

Other western resorts reporting big falls include Jackson Hole, Vail, Big Sky, Breckenridge and in Alaska, Alyeska, all of which have received more than 60cm (two feet).

There’s been snow on the east too, with the excellent ski area of Mt Sutton in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, for example, receiving more than 40cm over the weekend. Cold weather has also allowed for snowmaking at many resorts in the East.

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