Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand, got a bit wintery this week...
Last few weeks for the south, new season in sight for the northern hemisphere.
The Snow Headlines - 15th September
- Snow reported up high in the Alps including Zugspitze and Hintertux glaciers.
- Chile's leading ski resort of Portillo says 2022 season will end this Sunday.
- Italy's Val Senales to open for 22-23 season this weekend.
- Loveland test snowmaking equipment ahead of season.
- Fresh snowfall improves conditions at New Zealand's Mt Ruapehu.
- Excitement in Alberta as Sunshine and other areas see good snow covering.
A little snow around the world...
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Probably the most welcome news of the past week was the appearance of a thin fresh snow covering on Alpine glaciers in Europe after the long hot spring and summer.
This was not yet the kind of decent early-autumn dump we get some years, but something at least, and the unprecedented period of there only being one area open in the northern hemisphere should end this weekend as a second glacier area opens. There was a good snowfall in the Canadian Rockies too.
The season continues to wind down in the southern hemisphere with the first of the big name resorts south of the equator, Chile's Portillo, announcing it will end its 2022 season this Sunday. Most of the rest will follow over the next three weeks.
There's been some fresh snowfall reported in Australia and New Zealand this week, although also periods of rain in Australia and strong winds once more in New Zealand.
Australian ski areas have had another good week with decent snow depths leading into the final weeks of the season.
Thredbo tops the pile with just over two metres lying while Perisher, having about 20cm less, has more terrain open, the second-most in the world at present with nearly 60km of runs open in fact.
There was some fresh snowfall to start the week adding 5-10cm and temperatures have been cold enough overnight for snowmaking but it is warming up and the next front arriving is unfortunately expected to bring rain initially before transforming to deliver a decent dump of snowfall.
A fairly good week by the standards of this season in New Zealand with some decent fresh snowfalls reported and generally good weather in between although the familiar issue of gale-force winds did temporarily close some areas once again and avalanche mitigation work also led to some areas being closed to access.
Mount Ruapehu on the country's North Island, where the Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas have had one of their most challenging seasons on record, was one of those excited to see fresh snowfall. They're aiming to make up for lost time by staying open to the latter half of the autumn, if they can, but bases are still not deep here.
The numbers are better on the South Island with Mount Hutt, Treble Cone and others posting around 1.5 metres (five feet) lying or more. These areas reported up to 30cm (a foot) of fresh snowfall on Thursday morning.
Another fairly dry week in the Andes, where the season continues to wind down, despite the ski areas with the deepest reported snowpacks in the world at present (2.5 – 3 metres) and the most terrain open (^4km/40 miles at Cerro Catedral near Bariloche) both being here.
Temperatures have continued to dip below freezing on the slopes overnight but have been reaching double-figures above zero Celsius in the afternoons at bases.
Chile's famous resort of Portillo says its season, its first full one since 2019, will end this Sunday whereas Argentina's Las Lenas will carry on to September 30th. Most other ski areas in South America will close before the end of the month although a few including La Hoya say they'll be open to early-mid October.
The prolonged hot weather in the Alps though spring and summer set alarm bells ringing that the start of the autumn opening of glaciers might be delayed this year.
However two – Italy's Val Senales and Austria's highest glacier slopes at Pitztal - have announced they'll open this month. Val Senales this weekend and Pitztal on the final Friday of September. The news comes after fresh snowfall was reported on glaciers on Friday-Saturday at the end of last week, the first noticeable fall, albeit a minor one, for months for most places.
At Hintertux in Austria, currently the only ski area currently open in the northern hemisphere, the grey glacial ice turned white once more.
Several resorts including Norway's Galdhopiggen, Switzerland's Saas-Fee and Zermatt and Passio Stelvio in Italy are temporarily closed until conditions improve, which might be soon. That said the weather has been sunnier since the weekend, although staying cool up high.
The big excitement in North America over the past week was a decent covering of snow on Friday-Saturday at the end of last week at a number of ski areas in Western Alberta and Eastern BC in Canada.
Sunshine ski area near Banff, which usually opens late October/early November with natural snow cover, was one of those blessed.
Elsewhere, particularly in the Western US, it has been hot once again and a number of fresh forest fires have broken out near several ski areas in California. Despite this Loveland ski area in Colorado, one of America and the world's highest, tested their snowmaking systems earlier this week, getting lots of media attention for doing so, with the hope it will be cold enough to turn them on and start snow-making at the end of the month.
There's nowhere currently open for snow sports on snow in North America except for the indoor Big Snow centre in New Jersey, however a number of areas high in the Colorado Rockies hope to start snow-making in about a fortnight if it's cold enough, with mid-late October opening targeted.