Yes, this is a current photo, and no, it's not from the Alps. It's been a while since my last update and that was simply because there wasn't anything to tell. The best snow in the Alps can still be found above 2200 meters in the resorts in the main alpine ridge and the resorts just south of it. It's Sadness with a capital S in the other resorts. The snow cannons are trying to save the bookings of lots of tourists, but there's a Föhn wind kicking in this weekend, so they probably can be switched off again. It's December 11 and skiers and snowboarders who booked for the Christmas holidays hold their breath. And not for the first time. Christmas holidays pretty much marks the transition from early winter to mid-winter and every year there are some resorts where you don't find the motherload and that's no different this year. If we look at the conditions right now, than only the skiers and boarders who booked their holiday in Zermatt, Saas-Fee, A**t, Sulden am Ortler, San Domenico, the Monte Rosa, Passo Tonale, Val Senales, Ischgl, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Stubaital and Obergurgl can find some powder. Same goes for resorts like: Prali, Via Lattea, Risoul, Pelvoux, Puy St. Vincent, Valfrejus. Serre Chevalier, Val Cenis, Espace Killy, Val Thorens and St. Jakob im Defereggental. You can definitely find some powder with some creativity, but we'll do our best to track a lot already!
I was at the Pitztaler Gletsjer in Austria today. The valley was a complete disaster. Only three centimeters of snow in the valley and only after the train dropped us at an altitude of 2800 meters, I could say it was winter. We had to snow some creativity to find some powder, but when we looked south we could see better conditions south of the main alpine ridge. We'll ride in Obergurgl tomorrow! But let's also look at the days that are ahead of us?
The NAO-index is positive (for a while already) and this normally means that the conditions are great in Norway and (dry and) warm in the Alps. And this can be confirmed based on the current conditions. You can find lots of powder in Norway and in the Alps we have to search for powder, even for snow at some resorts. You can find a base of 1 and 2 meters in the main alpine ridge, but most of the resorts can be found at much lower altitudes. And that's not a good thing at the moment. It means that the weekends are really busy at the resorts that are open and you'll have to share the lifts with thousands of groomer-hungry tourists. It's not that it gets really busy in the backcountry, but hey, it's not the charm of a little gem. But then again, powder is powder and it can certainly be found. Today was pretty good, but don't set your expectations too high.
Friday and Saturday will be sunny in the Alps and there will be a weak southern Föhn kicking in and the temperature will go up again. A weak front will pass on Sunday and it will bring some centimeters in the north west. Especially north of the Swiss northern alpine ridge and in Vorarlberg this can even be 10-20 centimeters. And that's not enough.
The NAO-index will remain negative after the weekend, but there is some hope. After December 17 most models are showing a more positive NAO-index and this means a growing chance of cold temperatures and snow for the Alps. But the models and a high pressure area around the Azores are still playing games with us, so there's not much to say yet about the long term. But I'll come back to you this weekend with more news. If you want to go to the Alps during Christmas holidays and you want to be sure that you'll have (natural) snow, than the resorts I mentioned before are the go-to resorts. If you want freshies on the short term, than you should go to Norway and if you're flexible, wait a bit longer with your booking. Did you book for a resort on a lower elevation and you're leaving on the 20th....I'd say cancel it. There always a chance to book again last-minute.