After a quiet few weeks of snowfall in both Europe and North America, there is at last white in the forecast as thousands of British skiers head out on their half-term ski holidays.
Most of Europe has had another warm, sunny week, with the freezing point frequently above the highest peaks. The exception has been Scandinavia, where Storm Ingunn delivered more than50cm of powder to the slopes of Norway and Sweden.
Although the recent spring-like weather in the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees has caused some concern, skiers can remain calm. Heavy snowfalls in the first few months of the season have left the snow lying deep and almost everything remains open. Importantly, temperatures are also now getting colder and snow has started falling again in all the major Alpine nations. Up to a metre (3ft) could arrive in Switzerland in the next week, while French resorts expect around 40cm (16in). While ski areas in Austria and Italy have lost some snow depth in the past week, snow in the forecast will ensure slopes remain open.
In California, there is also a big dumping to report. Due to the strong el niño, the state hasn’t seen much significant snowfall until now. Mammoth Mountain is reporting more than 7ft (2.1m) in six days as the snow keeps on coming.
Fresh snowfall also arrived in Scotland this week, but unfortunately there’s a lot of lost ground to make up after more gales, torrential rain and warm spells decimated much of the snowpack, leaving not much beyond nursery slopes open.
Temperatures are starting to fall and snowfall has arrived, ending a period of very warm weather. Most French slopes have remained open though and the world’s four deepest reported snow depths, around 4m (13ft) on top slopes, are at Chamonix, Flaine, Les Arcs and Tignes/Val d’Isère.
Temperatures should drop back below freezing at low levels through the weekend. Moderate snowfalls are expected over the next few days – the world’s largest ski area, Les 3 Vallées (Val Thorens, ​Les Menuires, ​Méribel, ​Courchevel), hopefully having about a 40cm (16in) accumulation by Monday, with similar totals expected across the French Alps.
With the coming snowfall, freeriding opportunities – currently very limited – should be much improved. Experts from Henry’s Avalanche Talk warn that there will inevitably be a corresponding jump in avalanche danger on certain slopes – so be extra aware if you’re heading off-piste.
Here's the latest footage and snow report from @lesgetsnews @PDS_officiel, where higher slopes are in good condition but off-piste slopes are ready for a refresh – thanks to @sophieibbotson_ @TheSteadicamMan and @skiweekends ❄️ pic.twitter.com/HdmXHyUjFU
— Telegraph Ski & Snow (@TeleSkiSnow) February 8, 2024
Austrian ski areas have lost 5 to 10 per cent of their snowpack in the last week, but that’s not enough to cause any issues with open slopes, with most areas unchanged at 90 to 100 per cent open. There has been fresh snowfall already on glaciers over the past few nights, with the Kitzsteinhorn near Zell am See and the Stubai on the Innsbruck pass among the beneficiaries. St Anton still has the country’s deepest snow, up at Valluga, and its Arlberg region has the most terrain open – 280km (174 miles).
The southerly Foehn wind that has been bringing the unwelcome warm temperatures recently is becoming more unsettled, bringing some stormy weekend weather ahead of colder temperatures next week.
Resorts in Italy have seen temperatures drop already and fresh snowfall has arrived slightly earlier than more northerly ski nations. The snow is already starting to fall in the Dolomites, with Val Gardena one of those expecting half a metre (20in) to accumulate by Monday. This should transform green valleys across the country, although, as elsewhere, almost all ski runs have been open through the warm, dry spell anyway.
Temperatures falling through the weekend and into next week, with fresh snowfall expected daily. Cervinia is in line for more than 60cm (2ft).
Swiss areas have had a warm week but are turning colder too. Village level snow has halved in Verbier but the 4 Valleys is still almost fully open with 390km (242 miles) of slopes skiable and snowfall returning. Laax/Flims has the deepest snow at 3.6m (12ft) up top.
An increasingly snowy prognosis with many areas likely to see 50cm to 1m (20-40in) snow totals over the next seven days. Temperatures continue to drop but won’t reach below freezing in the daytime at low elevations until next week begins.
— Saastal Magnifique Saas-Fee (@SaastalFotos) February 3, 2024
North America’s largest ski area, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, gave a frank report on conditions there for the start of February at the weekend, describing them as “challenging” and noting a high freezing point and rain damage to some slopes. It’s a picture repeated across Western Canada where, although most centres are mostly open, like Europe, there’s not been much of their famous light, fluffy powder. Things have improved over the past few days though with more light snowfall.
Cold with overcast skies, temperatures between –15C to +3C in the west, with light snowfalls.
It’s been the best week of winter 23/24 so far in the western US. There have been huge snowfalls in Californian ski areas and it’s been powder days in the Rockies too. Jackson Hole is up 1ft at mid-mountain, and 2ft up top. Taos in New Mexico reported 75cm (30in) in 48 hours and it has been a similar story in Colorado and Utah.
More weekend snow showers in the Rockies, but drier now on the west coast. Most areas will see lots of sunshine next week, with temperatures just below freezing.