Snowfall during Easter prompts resorts to extend the season

This week, snowfall was heaviest in the Southern Alps – Getty

Easter has arrived and with it fresh snow in the Alps. Snow will be falling all week in European resorts and many other mountain ranges in the Northern Hemisphere, with North American resorts also doing particularly well this week.

Resorts in the Pyrenees have had more fresh snow in the last few weeks of the season. Eastern European centers also reported some good weekend snow accumulations and Scandinavian centres, including Norway’s Geilo and Hemsedal, have reported 20-30 cm more in recent days. Scotland has also had the coldest and snowiest weather for a while. Cairngorm and Glencoe have the most slopes open, with one skier saying conditions in the Main Basin were the best of the season on Tuesday.

The question now is how long that snowfall will remain untouched. At this late stage in the season, skiers should go high, or travel north, so it stays powdery the longest.


French ski resorts have had some fresh snow, the heaviest in the southern Alps, where Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes and Serre Chevalier dumped up to 75cm of snow in just 24 hours. The latter also recorded the world’s largest jump in published upper slope base depth this week. Freeriders should take into account that the avalanche danger has increased from moderate (level 2 on the scale to 5) to high (level 4). Some ski resorts have announced that snow conditions merit longer seasons. Chamonix says higher slopes in the Brévent sector, where snow is 2.9 meters deep at the top, will remain open an extra week until April 21.

The prognosis

It remains cool for the time of year, with temperatures ranging from +10C in the valleys in the afternoon to -15C at night. More light to moderate snow showers over the Easter weekend and into April.

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It was a snowy end to March in Austria, leading to the cancellation of the final World Cup downhill ski race of the season in Saalbach on Sunday – 25cm of fresh snowfall at high altitude was to blame. The snow showers continue to come, with sunny spells in between, including Ischgl and Solden which are partially closed mid-week due to the conditions. The fresh snow has led to a significant increase in the avalanche danger in areas such as the Arlberg, around Lech and St. Anton (level 3).

The prognosis

The snow showers will continue next week with fairly cool temperatures for this time of year, especially compared to recent weeks.

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Fresh snow has fallen throughout Italy. The heaviest was reported in the Aosta Valley, with Pila recording an accumulation of 67cm on Thursday morning. Cervinia, which now offers year-round access to the glacier ski area it shares with Swiss neighbor Zermatt, was another big winner. Further east, most ski resorts in the Dolomites, including Alta Badia and Val Gardena, report that their slopes are 100 percent open for the Easter week.

The prognosis

A lot of precipitation is forecast in the first week of April. The altitude at which it falls as rain instead of snow will be between 1,000 and 2,000 meters.

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Cortina D'AmpezzoCortina D'Ampezzo

Resorts in Italy enjoy fantastic conditions – Getty/E+


Swiss centers have seen some major snowfall this week, with Gstaad’s Glacier 3000 closed midweek as the storm blew through and Saas-Fee placing the world’s deepest snowpack at its summit, almost 5 metres, after another 45cm of accumulation. Most major areas of the country remain 75 to 95 percent open, with nice conditions at altitude thanks to fresh snowfall. Adelboden, Engelberg, Zermatt and St. Moritz have announced plans to keep the slopes open until May.

The prognosis

Mixed conditions, the freezing point fluctuates between about 1000 and 2500 m, lots of sunshine, with temperatures up to +12 degrees Celsius at an altitude of 1000 meters, but the snow showers also continue on the higher slopes.

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It was a snowy weekend across Canada, with eastern resorts like Tremblant celebrating powder conditions and also more snowfall in Alberta and British Columbia. Daylight is starting to last longer in these northern latitudes and Banff’s Sunshine says lifts will now start running later, some until 5pm each day. The season there runs until May 20 this year.

The prognosis

A mainly sunny week with occasional snow/sleet/rain showers and temperatures between -10C and +10C.

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There has been heavy snowfall on both the eastern and western sides of the US through the end of March. Maine’s Sunday River Ski Area, one of the largest on the East Coast, described the 3 feet of snowfall it received in 48 hours this week as a “March miracle” and the conditions as the best of the entire season. Similar falls were also reported on the West Coast, with the Palisades in California recording a height of 30 inches (79 cm) in 72 hours. It was powder from coast to coast and Deer Valley, Park City and Steamboat all extended their seasons until the end of April.

The prognosis

Another major storm is hitting the West Coast and will continue through Easter weekend with storm totals exceeding 3 feet for some. A mix of sunshine and snow/sleet/rain showers further inland next week.

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When do ski areas close?

April 7

Italy: Alta Badia

Spain: Baqueira beret

April 14

Italy: Champoluc

Switzerland: Crans-Montana

April 21

France: Alpe d’Huez, Courchevel, Flaine

Switzerland: Mürren, Saas Fee and Verbier

USA: Alta and Deer Valley

April 27th

France: Les Arcs and La Plagne

April 28

Norway: Myrkdalen

Switzerland: Glacier 3000 and Grindelwald

May 1

Austria: Ischgl, Obertauern and Sölden

France: Chamonix

5th of May

France: Tignes, Val d’Isere and Val Thorens

Italy: Passo Tonale and Sella Nevea

Japan: Furano, Shiga Kogen and Zao Onsen

Slovakia: Jasna

May 19

Canada: Whistler Blackcomb

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