Inghams brings you the latest snow reports from the slopes throughout the winter season. Find the latest reports by country and resort, when it last snowed, the latest depths, the number of lifts open and the forecast for the next few days.
Are you struggling with snowfall? Having difficulty differentiating your snow depths from your base? Following snow reports and checking snow conditions is important to ensuring your ski holiday is full of great runs. But if you aren’t sure what to look out for it can be hard to find the holiday that is right for you. Here are some of the key things to consider, whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned skier, when on the lookout for high quality snow…
1. Snowfall and snow retention
Snowfall is the amount of snow that gets ‘dumped’ on the piste. Checking the daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly average snowfall for your chosen ski resort is a great way to estimate the quality of snow that you can expect in resort.
In Austria, the exclusive Zürs resort has the highest annual snowfall coverage of any European resort, and is connected to the surrounding Arlberg ski area’s resorts, providing loads of snow-sure skiing. Watching snow reports online will help you monitor the most recent snowfall and to plan your skiing in the weeks leading up to your holiday.
Equally as important to skiers as snowfall is a resort’s snow retention record. The ability of the mountain to keep the snow on the slopes can dramatically increase the resort’s snow surety.
Resorts set into a mountain, using the rock as a shelter are known for having the best snow retention. Such resorts are known as snow bowls and can be found across Austria, Switzerland and France. Notable snow bowl resorts include Saas-Fee, Obergurgl and Flaine. Gentle slopes, such as those found in Mont Tremblant in Canada also retain snow for longer than steeper slopes.
2. Optimal weather
You needn’t be concerned about sunny days in the mountains – while you’re not going to receive any snowfall on a cloudless, ‘bluebird’ day these are some of the most enjoyable days on which to ski. Alpe d’Huez claims to be the sunniest resort in France with 360 days of sunshine, but they have a fantastic snow record thanks to their high altitude.
The optimal conditions for snowfall are temperatures between -6°C to -1°C. Early season skiers typically experience colder weather, excellent when combined with heavy snow, while late season skiers tend to have sunnier days.
A resort with a balance of weather conditions is going to provide the best quality skiing. Cool conditions with cloud coverage for your snowfall, and sunny days to keep you warm on the slopes and provide excellent visibility – perfect skiing!
3. Snow maintenance
The pistes in resort are groomed regularly to ensure both the quality and longevity of the snow. Snow maintenance is an ever-advancing art form and the ability of resorts to maintain excellent snow conditions – even when snowfall is low - has never been better.
A snowcat or piste basher is a frequent sight on the mountain and it is certainly spectacular to see these huge vehicles grooming the near vertical, steeper slopes. In some resorts there is even an opportunity to have a ride in one of these vehicles.
Snow can also be topped up using a snow cannon. Artificial snow is made using pressurised water. While some snobbery exists around the use of snow cannons it’s impossible to deny that the quality of snow they produce now-a-days is high. And they can really enhance the skiing experience in resort.
4. Altitude and glaciers
Aided by their high altitude and natural glaciers some resorts around the world have set themselves apart thanks to their year-round snow presence. Notably cooler than surrounding areas, high altitude and glacier resorts have excellent conditions for snow retention.
In France, in the Espace Killy area, both Val d’Isère and Tignes are served by the Grande Motte glacier making it a popular choice for skiers throughout the winter. And as the highest resort in Europe, Val Thorens in the Three Valleys is usually one of the first resorts to open.
Zermatt in Switzerland frequently has fantastic snow conditions and skiing is even possible in the summer thanks to nearby glaciers.
The position of a ski resort can greatly influence the amount of snowfall. In the Alps the prevailing snowfall comes from the North West, so resorts in this part of the mountain range can get the highest levels of snowfall. But such resorts are also open to the elements, making snow retention harder.
South-facing mountains can still have excellent snow. In Switzerland, the world-class resort of Verbier has fantastic snow coverage, which provides a varied skiing experience across a variety of runs and routes, while still having a sunny, south facing aspect.
Looking further afield to Canada, British Columbia’s Whistler remains the most popular ski resort in North America, thanks to the consistently high quality of the snow. Its position in the Rockies means it’s one of the most reliable ski resorts out there.
Now that you’re fully armed with information on how to understand snow conditions you can be confident in choosing a ski resort that is suitable to you. For the latest up-to-date information about the snow across our resorts check-out the listings above for the weekly updates from our representatives.