Great news! After almost fortnight of spring in the Alps the week ahead sees a surprise return of winter. Temperatures are already falling and higher elevations are seeing snowfall again. Through the weekend precipitation will favour the western Alps but by the middle of next week almost all resorts should have fresh snow cover. North America, like most of the European ski areas has been in the grip of spring with sunshine and very mild temperatures. All is about to change as colder air arrives and some big snowfall is heading to many of the premier resorts of Canada and the USA.
The French Alps have big snow in the forecast for the next five days and if the snow arrives as predicted, the damage done by the recent very mild spell will soon be repaired. Val d'Isere (1,850m) has 90cm of fresh snowfall forecast and if this delivers there will be epic skiing on offer. Critically the average resort temperature high through until the middle of next week is just above 0ºC and this means fresh snow will be falling dry at all elevations but on upper pistes, which rise to 3,500m, there will be powder snow conditions.
The best skiing today in the Austrian Alps is on the very highest pistes as recent mild spring weather has damaged snow cover and surface conditions in all the lower elevation resorts. The forecast for Austria though promises to end the rapid snow loss, as much cooler temperatures are now arriving. Still high resorts will offer the best skiing over the next five days and Obertauern (1,640m), with pistes rising to 2,330m, will have sufficient altitude to offer dry snow surface conditions at all elevations. The resort has 10cm of fresh snowfall in the forecast.
A weather change is now arriving in the Swiss Alps with temperatures falling fast. The past week has seen the freezing level rise daily to about 3,000m and this has damaged snow conditions on lower pistes and sent skiers in search of firm spring snow higher up. The forecast for this weekend is for much cooler air and snow will fall to resort elevation once again. Zermatt (1,620m) offers skiing to 3,900m by the Matterhorn and the five-day forecast promises very heavy snowfall for the resort, over one metre of new snow predicted.
After the extended period of spring temperatures the Italian resorts are looking forward to cooler air and any snowfall that might improve prospects for April skiers. The five-day forecast looks like it will deliver, with colder air and in the west, some heavy snowfall. Cervinia (1,520m) is well positioned above the Aosta Valley to capture the best of the forecast snow and the resort has up to one metre of fresh snow predicted by next Wednesday. Today the resort is operating all 14 lifts and temperatures are already cooler than they have been, close to 0ºC at 8am in the resort this morning.
A great forecast has been issued for the next five-days across Canada with cooler air and heavy fresh snowfall expected. The best of the snowfall will dump over British Columbia where the leading resort is Whistler (652m). Today in the resort all 35 lifts are operating and skiing is excellent. Mid-mountain snow depth is now recorded at 310cm, which is a season high and that will improve over the next five days, with 60cm of fresh dry snow about to be delivered. Average minimum temperature at resort elevation over the next few days will be just 2ºC, which should optimum conditions on Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain.
It has been very mild and sunny in the leading resorts of all the premier ski states of the USA for much of the past fortnight but the forecast promises change. Much colder air and heavy snowfall is now heading to many parts of the Rockies and also New England. In Colorado the high elevation resort of Breckenridge (2,926m) has already seen temperatures drop and next week will see 30cm of fresh powder snowfall. Today all 34 lifts are open and the mid-mountain snow depths are healthy at 150cm. Average resort high over the next five days will be just 3ºC, and the low -13ºC.
Many days of warm spring sunshine skiing are coming to an end in the Pyrenees, at least for the next five days. The resorts of the Grandvalira and Vallnord ski domains of Andorra have snow and cold air forecast with deep dry snowfall expected at the higher elevations. Arcalis (1,940m) still hold over 200cm of snow cover on upper slopes despite the recent thaw and things could be about to improve quite dramatically as up to 70cm of fresh snowfall is expected by the middle of next week.
There have been very mild temperatures recorded in Eastern Europe in the past week but the highest pistes are still holding impressive snow depths for this stage of the season. The best snow cover in the region can be found in Bulgaria where Bansko (2,000m) is today running 12 of 14 lifts. Recent conditions have been spring sunshine but cooler air and more mixed overhead is coming next week and 20cm of fresh snow is forecast for upper pistes which rise to 2,560m and currently hold around 150cm of snow base.
There is good skiing on offer in Finland, Norway and Sweden right now with recent falls of fresh snow and relatively low temperatures maintaining decent surface conditions for skiers at all elevations. The week ahead also looks excellent with cold air and periods of snowfall likely. Salen in Sweden is having a fine season and today all 88 lifts across the linked domain are operating. Mid-mountain base snow depths are now at 100cm and skiers are enjoying groomed and firm packed snow conditions.
The past week has seen limited skiing and a light cover of fresh dry snow on offer at Cairngorm, Glencoe and Nevis Range but the end is nigh for that meagre offer as the forecast for the Highlands next week only features warm sunshine. Conditions will be glorious for walkers and climbers but skiers will left to ponder for at least another fortnight if there is any life left in this dismal Scottish ski season.