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Published on Friday, December 22, 2017

Where to find the whitest Christmas

French resorts are still leading the way when it comes to snowfall this winter season. Here's this week's snow report from the Ski Club.

In central Europe the weather has now changed, with clearer skies now prevailing in France and Switzerland. In Scotland, the Lecht is now the only resort open, but fresh snow is on the forecast after Christmas. Keep an eye on Russia, where a dump of 36cm has provided some lovely conditions at Sochi

Japan continues to impress, with powder days for both Rusutsu and Nisseko, where the latter has already received 464cm this season.

Conditions in North America are on the up, with this week delivering substantial quantities of snow across Canada, offering spectacular skiing, with resorts such as Big Sky and Lake Louise as standout options. Both major ski areas in the USA are also seeing fresh snow, with duel storms across New England and the entire west of the country, providing some welcome snow to Utah and Colorado.

Based on current weather forecasts for the next 9 days, the top three resorts for expected snowfall are:

Argentiere, France- 249cm
Chamonix, France -249cm
La Grave, France -239cm

It's been a great start to the season so far for our featured Austrian resorts. Nearly all resorts have upper snow depths of over 100cm, which will provide a good base for the winter ahead. A number of resorts have recorded snowfall overnight Wednesday, including: Hopfgarten (45cm/120cm), Seefeld (40cm/100cm), Zauchensee (100cm/125cm), and Mayrhofen (15cm/140cm, which all measured around 10cm of fresh.
The best skiing at the moment has to be on the Kitzsteinhorn in Kaprun (105cm/330cm), which continues to have regular snow, and a snow depth of over 300cm. Obertauern (160cm/200cm) was also offering great conditions, and was running all lifts on Thursday. '¨'¨Looking to the weekend, snow is forecast for a number of featured resorts. Kitzbuhel (18cm/93cm) and Kirchberg (18cm/93cm) are both expecting over 20cm of snow over the next few days, whilst St Anton (70cm/165cm) and Mayrhofen (15cm/140cm) are forecast to receive 15cm.

No new snow was falling over the French Alps yesterday, with predominantly clear skies throughout the region and only light clouds locally. The last significant snow came down on December 18, meaning the slopes are still fresh. After a noticeably cold preseason, temperatures are now relatively mild for the time of year helping to avoid the slopes becoming too icy.

This pleasant change from an extended period of overcast conditions provided an excellent opportunity to enjoy some bluebird days. However, as the season has really kicked off, fresh snow is becoming harder to fine, with the off piste quickly becoming tracked out, especially in large and busy ski areas such as Flaine (110/245cm) and Val Thorens (140/240cm).

Conditions in the Northern French Alps remain noticeably better than in the more southerly resorts, who have not received such a share of snow in the past week. The forecast looks to remain fair over the coming day with no risk of Christmas white outs. However, immediately following that, a substantial new storm looks to deliver large amounts of snow over the entire region.

Following the exceptional snowfall during last weekend and at the start of this week, conditions have settled to provide fantastic skiing. A couple of resorts are forecast to receive a sprinkling of snow, with Murren (70cm/221cm), Samnaun (40cm/80cm) and Engelberg (78cm/436cm) expecting around 5cm. In most resorts it will be sunny with occasional cloud coverage. '¨'¨Following a dump 39cm, Wengen (45cm/150cm) in the Jungfrau is definitely one of the best places to ski in Switzerland, with an additional 7cm of snow over the next couple of days likely to improve the conditions further.

'¨Most resorts will experience cloudy weather with a chance of snow on Friday. Over the weekend it looks like a band of high pressure will move in, likely to remain in place over Christmas.

In the east, the Dolomite resorts have now been just over a week without substantial snowfall, leading to some runs becoming harder and icier. However, with the resorts now in full swing and the majority of lifts open, there are vast numbers of runs available throughout the connected ski areas of the Sella Ronda to take advantage of for those looking to lay down some miles.
It is only mildly cloudier in the west of the country, with all traces of recent storms now gone from the sky. However, the impact is still evident, with webcams showing large amounts of snow sitting on top of buildings, as well as on the slopes where the opportunities for fresh tracks remain in resorts such as Cervinia (50/100cm). Further south, links are beginning to open in the Milky Way ski area, though we are still waiting for the majority to open up.

Sunny skies are expected to prevail through the next few days, after with current forecasts show huge amounts of snow to come down over the resorts lining the Swiss and French borders in the Aosta valley. Expect the days following Christmas to bring upwards of 150cm.~~

Over the night Wednesday there was light snowfall in Androrra, however, not really large enough to provide any real change to the slopes. Snow is forecast across Friday in all resorts, but again, it only predicted to be light. The weather during the weekend is expected to be sunny, with a spring-like feel accompanied by mild temperatures as we head into the festive period. The best skiing at the moment is in Arcalis (50cm/100cm).

Over course of the week there has not been any real change in conditions at our Finish resorts. Temperatures remained below freezing on Thursday, and conditions are hard packed on piste at Levi (70cm), Ruka (60/90cm) and Yllas (60/90cm). Over the course of the day there may be a very small amount of fresh snow at all three resorts, with greater accumulations predicted for Saturday.

The picture was a rather similar one in Norway. Small amounts of new snow is expected, but there is no real change to skiing conditions. Christmas Eve currently looks promising for Voss (40/135cm), with around 16m expected.

In Sweden there has been a large increase in the number of lifts operating across Are (51cm) and Salen (51cm), with 29/41 and 82/88 running respectively. There was 5cm of fresh at Are on Wednesday, where the best conditions can currently on the upper slopes.

Snow has continued to fall lightly throughout the week, with light flurries adding to the more substantial amounts that came down previously, helping to keep the pistes in great shape. However, cloudy skies lingered over our featured German resorts, with mild temperatures causing the forecasts to flick between snow and rain which risks impacting conditions somewhat, especially over Feldberg (60/135cm) and Lenggries (60/130cm) where the temperatures are stubbornly above zero. However, at higher altitudes there is the possibility of a light dusting of snow. Temperatures are looking to rise once again over the coming days through till Christmas day, thereafter a new storm will move in with fresh snow coming.

A largely overcast day prevailed across Bulgaria on Thursday, where temperatures were around -8C at our three featured resorts: Bansko (5/40cm), Borovets and Pamporovo (10/30cm). Of the three, Borovets is the only resort not yet open, however, there was better news for those skiing Bansko over Christmas, as connecting runs from the mid station to the town are now open.

In Russia, a huge 36cm of fresh snow fell at the ex-Olympic resort - Sochi (10/210cm). For the best skiing, stick to the slopes around Rosa Peak, where some great powder conditions can be found.

The Lecht (10/15cm) was the only area open on Thursday, where 2 lifts were offering limited skiing on icy and hard packed slopes. Unfortunately, warm weather have stripped the other ski centres of the majority of their snow, leaving the mountains largely brown once again.

There is however some good news, as it looks like temperatures are on the decrease. Snow may fall as early as Christmas Eve, continuing on into the New Year.

Two new weather systems lit up much of the USA on Thursday. In the north east, dropping temperatures has resulted in this becoming more likely to fall as snow rather than sleet or rain was feared. Light flurries under 10cm have already come down across Vermont and New Hampshire, with plenty more on the way. This weekend will see Killington (38/61cm) offer more than 100 trails in time for some Christmas skiing

Simultaneously, some very welcome snow was falling across Utah, Colorado, as well as much of the rest of the western resorts - ending an extended period of mild conditions. This looks to continue through Friday, and clouds lingering to Christmas day. It began coming down on Wednesday evening and as of Thursday morning there have been accumulations of 13cm in Jackson Hole (71/135cm) and further south in Arapahoe Basin (56cm) getting 10cm overnight. This new snow will hopefully allow resorts in the area to expand their lift operations and open new terrain, something that has been hampered by lack of snow and mild temperatures preventing artificial production until now.

Mammoth (51/152cm) also received some much needed snow overnight with 8cm arriving, as well as lighter dustings over the other California based resorts.~

Conditions in Canada are truly fantastic. Thursday was a powder day across British Columbia and Alberta, with substantial snow coming down over each of the past few days, which continued to fall. Resorts such as Lake Louise (96/134cm) have seen 34cm fall this week so far, providing ample opportunities from skiing untouched snow across 118 trails, while in BC, Fernie (112cm) saw a massive 27cm overnight.~

Quebec is seeing some more mild conditions, with low temperatures but no new snow until Friday, when Mont Sainte Anne (67/97cm) looks to receive around 25cm, giving some Christmas Eve powder skiing opportunities.~
A short pause in the snowfall is expected Friday and Saturday, before lighter cover resumes over the Christmas period. Expect bitterly cold temperatures however, with long range forecasts showing it going as low as -26C.~

Nisseko (155/320cm) just keeps delivering the goods this season, and the resort was coated with a fresh 38cm of new snow on Thursday, which brings the season total to 464cm. Temperatures remained cold at Habuka (70/170cm), where largely sunny skies prevailed. There hasn't been any new snow since the December 18, but Christmas day is currently forecast bring around 12cm.

In Hokkaido, Rusutsu (110c/130cm) has amassed 20cm of fresh snow in the last 24 hours, and was running 10/18 lifts; get those fat skis out.

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