The first non-glacier resort in the Alps opened on Saturday, on what is believed to be it's earliest ever opening date. For the 4th time in a row, Kitzbühel repeats the stunt to open ahead of any other non-glacier ski area in the Alps.
However Kitzbühel has not opened with new snow or even snow making but by using snow stored from last season. It’s a technique called snowharvesting and successfully used by several Scandinavian ski resorts with Ruka in Finland and Geilo in Norway opening the same way over the past few weeks. The Resterkogel/Resterhöhe area is operating at the weekend and hopes to open on a daily basis from 21st October. The famous Austrian resort plans to use the same technique to open a second area on the Hahnenkamm in 12 days’ time.The official opening for the entire Kitzbuhel ski area is scheduled for November 28th.
Winter seems far from over in Europe, as the snowfall of recent days shows. Snowfall has affected the upper slopes in most of the southwestern part of the Alps. It was the French/Italian border area that saw the most fresh snow, with 20cm at resort level in Val d’Isère this morning and 50-60cm reported at altitude. In the Southern Alps, the resorts of Montgenèvre and Val d'Allos prolonged their season a bit with current snow conditions worthy of high-altitude ski resorts, offering respectively 250 and 160cm of snow at the top of their domain. Skiing conditions were superb today with intense blue skies.
The winter has finally returned in the western Alps since last weekend. After a first disruption which began Thursday night, a second front arrived Saturday and dropped a thick layer of -much needed- fresh snow. Below 1500m or so there has also been some rain and sleet at times, but snow did eventually reach much lower levels later on Sunday. In spite of the wind that has complicated the situation, one sees some nice snow accumulations in certain parts of the western Alps. The heaviest falls have been in the the French southern Alps, the (south)western Swiss Alps and some central and western parts of the Italian Alps. The snow has settled at low altitudes too: there’s snow down to village level in The Portes du Soleil and the Dolomites again. Higher up, the off-piste avalanche risk is generally 3/5, down from a very dangerous (4/5) yesterday, but still significant.
Since the end of November, a record breaking period of calm and exceptionally dry weather has been in place in the french Alps. December 2016 was the driest December in well over 110 years. Apart from some ski resorts along the Italian border and in the Southern Alps, a substantial natural snow cover was nearly absent.
All of this is changing soon, and the forecasts indicate that the skiing conditions are heading into the right direction fast. The outlook is very positive for the french Alps and western Switzerland, at least untill the start of next week.
With an artic blast battering the Alps, temperatures plunging beyond -20C, strong wind and heavy snow fall in the northern Alps the skiing conditions left much to be desired for. The weekend started with temperatures 15C below seasonal average in the eastern Alps, but since Saturday afternoon the frost has tempered and so has the snow fall in the northern Alps since Sunday morning. Don't worry, the good news is that the winter weather will continu for a while and will shift it's focal point towards the western Alps.
Friday and Saturday night brought an additional 20 to 40cm to the snow depth in the Austrian Alps on top of the half a metre that came down this week. The valleys got their fair share and sometimes accumulated even more than the upper slopes. Skiing conditions have improved massively across Austria. The majority of the ski resorts in Tirol and Vorarlberg are finally on-par to the long-year seasonal snow depth average for this time of the year.
The northern Swiss Alps got around 15cm and, to everyone's surprise, even the northern French ski resorts were in for a thin fresh cover.
Written by skiweather on Sunday January 8, 2017
french, alps, western
The long-awaited steady snowfall in the northern Alps brought a relief to the persistent drought-like situation. Heavy snow fall and plummeting temperatures turned the valleys into a white fairytale landscape. As much as 70 cm of fresh snow is forecasted in Vorarlberg, Tirol and Salzburgerland on Wednesday and Thursday. The landscape will transform radically in just a short time in a good part of Austria and Switzerland, at least. The Arlberg ski resorts Lech-Zürs, Warth-Schröcken and Sankt Anton will re-emerge as the desired destination for powder seekers. In addition Saalbach, Kitzbühel, Zell am See and the SkiWelt will get a mayor boost in skiing opportunities.
Written by skiweather on Wednesday January 4, 2017
The Alps have been under the influence of a mild and slack air mass. Without some proper cold air in the mix to shake it all up there'll be no useful snowfall. Without a decent temperature gradient, weather simply won't happen. This is the -boring- picture of a classic anticyclone we have to live with well beyond New Year's day.
Once again, It has been another poor December for the Alps. The fourth in a row. Not only the temperature trend was similar to that of the previous year, but also the precipitation pattern shows some parallels to December 2015. On a brighter note, it was the second sunniest December on record.
A high pressure has nesttled itself in the heart of Europe for several weeks. On it's western flank very mild air has been spreading from the south across Iberia and western France. On it's eastern flank, cold northerly winds have brought sub-zero temperatures and some snow to Ukraine and Poland. In between, the high pressure has stifled the efforts of any weather system to bring significant snowfall. The air within an anticyclone is descending, which means that it is becoming warmer and drier
Clear skies and excellent snow in Obertauern
In the meantime, most of the Alps enjoyed abundant and prolongued sunshine and therefore there is a desperately shortage of natural snow. One exception is the eastern Austrian Alps where 15-35cm of fresh snow fell on the upper slopes earlier in the week. Ski resorts like Reiteralm, Schladming, Haus im Ennstal, Obertauern, Wagrain and Flachau were very lucky with a fresh snow cover. However, some low-altitude ski resorts in Salzburgerland and eastern Tirol got their Christmas party spoiled by sleet and drizzle.
The western southern Alps enjoyed substantial snow fall at the beginning of the week. The ski resorts in the border french-italian region and more noticeable the ski resorts in the Monte Rosa, Via Lattea, Aosta and Frejus region were the really lucky ones with 60 to 90cm -and locally even more!- of fresh powder snow. While the rest of the Alps endures a prolongued snow draught resorts like Sestriere, Montgenevre, Alagna, Cervinia, Champoluc, Gressoney, Pila and Isola 2000 enjoy superb snow conditions in the Alps this Christmas. They are all way above par. Excellent conditions can also be found in Tignes and Val d’Isere, where a dusting of fresh snow had refreshed slopes. The other premier European resorts will be offering their best skiing on slopes above mid station elevation with most pistes offering firm groomed snow or hard pack. Across most of the Alps natural snow cover is very poor for late December, with resorts heavily reliant on artificial snow, especially below 2200m.
At the moment a strong high pressure is still dominating the weather in the Alps, which results in abundant sunshine across the Alps. The system will retract far enough westwards to allow some weak fronts to clip the north-eastern Alps over the next few days. This could mean some very modest precipitation from december 24th well into to the 27th. Don't expect much. The snow line will go up and down and the precipitation will come down as snow, sleet and rain.
Written by skiweather on Friday December 23, 2016
There have been some important developments in the weather in the Alps the last 24 hours. On Sunday a weak cold front brought a little light snow to some north-eastern parts of the Alps, mainly the eastern Austria. Since this morning the weather situation has changed more dramatically. At the moment an area of low pressure is developing rapidly above the Mediterranean, while at the same time a high-pressure system is residing over eastern Europe is. A current from the east-southeast will fire up between the two systems. This front, which is hanging around in the Po-Valley right now, will be pushed against the Alps by the end of Monday morning and that part of the Alps will get severely hit.
The first big snow storm of the winter is in full swing with snow fall across the entire Alps, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia. On Saturday the heaviest snow was in Scandinavia and the western Alps, mainly in the border region of France and Italy but on Sunday the focus will move further east.
The rain/snow limit was initially at around 2000m in the southern French Alps, and a little bit lower lower in western Italy. In the late afternoon the limit descended towards 1400m. The eastern half of the Alps -especially Austria- escaped the worst of the storm, at least until late Saturday night. It snowed to much lower levels in the western Italian Alps and some parts of the southern French Alps, as low as 1000m, for example, in Courmayeur and in Sestriere and the rest of the Milky Way.
Written by skiweather on Sunday November 6, 2016
snow, dump, alps