Ski Resorts Open as Massive Autumn Snow Storm Passes
24th September 2020
Last modified on May 14th, 2021
Up to 1m of snow has fallen in places this weekend in one of the biggest autumn storms on record. It comes as a handful of glacier resorts in the Tirol fire up some lifts with some slopes already open and a Swiss resort is now opening early. UPDATED
Tuesday 29th September:
Looking good in Val Gardena in Italy.
And in St Anton in Austria.
Plus Les Menuires in Les3Vallees in France
And if you snow then it is falling across the world at the moment.
Winter is ending in the southern hemisphere and approaching in the north.
It is one of those rare times when there is snow falling in ski areas across much of the world.
See more here:
Monday 28th September
The good news from Switzerland is that Glacier 3000 has opened for skiing and snowboarding today.
It is only one red run on the Scex Rouge slope, but it is better than nothing.
Much better than nothing for the lucky ones able to get to the slope, and the powder just beside it.
The high-altitude ski area is near the resorts of Les Diablerets and Gstaad.
It has seen 70cm of fresh snow in the recent storm and total depth is now just under a metre after further snow earlier in the month.
Skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers have been out enjoying the September snow today.
The resort posted these images on Sunday as it made the opening announcement and began to clear the slopes.
The ski school is open too for anyone wanting to brush up on their skills.
A handful of other resorts in the Alps are already open.
Here’s Piztal in the Tirol in Austria.
Hintertux has been open throughout the summer and is now looking in superb condition for the lucky ones who are out.
Kaunertal in the Tirol opened at the weekend.
The storm is now over and it has been one of the biggest autumn storms that we can remember here at PlanetSKI.
We are not the only ones.
“Over the last couple of days, the northern Alps have generally seen between 15cm and 40cm of new snow at 2000m, with 40cm to 70cm above 2500m, and close to 1m in some western parts of Austria,” said the alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin, from weathertoski.co.uk.
“What is most remarkable about this storm is just how low the snow has fallen, with reports of wet snow to as low as 550m across some northern fringes of the Alps (e.g. the German/Austrian border).
“Several records were also broken, including 25cm of fresh snow in Crans Montana, Switzerland (1500m), never seen before in September.”
It will though mostly melt with the temperatures set to rise this week, but it is certainly very good news for the glacier areas that are already opening and those that plan to.
The glacier at Les2Alpes in France opens for two weeks on October 17th and this is what it currently looks like after the fresh snow.
And elsewhere in France though the lifts are not opening till the end of November/beginning of December it looks fabulous.
Val Thorens in Les3Vallees claims 50cm, with the resorts of Meribel and Courchevel seeing slightly less.
Lets not forget the French Pyrenees where this instructor from ESI has been out on his skis in the resort of Cauterets.
Sunday 27th September
On Saturday on PlanetSKI we were looking mainly at Austria and France in this rolling blog on the HUGE September snow storm.
Our story has now had more than 8,500 people view it.
Seems we all love pictures of snow and it is highly unusual to get so much in a single storm in September.
We have also posted a separate story from of our friends and readers currently out in the Alps:
So, what about elsewhere in Switzerland and Italy?
Here’s an image from the Facebook page of Livigno in Lombardy.
There has been less snow in the Aosta Valley.
Do check back later as we continue updating.
Pitztal, Hintertux and Kaunertal are open.
Saturday 26th September
As expected, there is plenty of fresh snow across the Alps today with the falls continuing into Sunday.
“The heaviest snow has fallen across the northern half of the Alps, where some favoured spots have already seen more than 60cm at altitude,” said the alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin, from Weathertoski.co.uk.
“The northern half of the Alps has generally seen between 15cm and 40cm at 2000m, and 30-60cm at 2500m”.
The snow has been falling in the southern Alps, but is less heavy.
The snow has hit Austria and is where we start our report – some resorts, including Pitztal, are already open for skiing and snowboarding.
The resort claims 50cm of fresh snow.
Here’s the scene above Innsbruck in the Tirol.
While in St Anton 65cm is reported to have fallen and it’s still coming down.
This weekend the glacier resort of Kaunertal in the Tirol opens for skiing and snowboarding.
After the clearing has been completed.
Stubai in the Tirol is set to open next weekend and the snow could hardly have come at a better time.
We have also posted a separate story from of our friends and readers currently out in the Alps:
In Italy the resort of Livigno looks more like February than September.
In France it has been coming down steadily in Val Thorens.
30cm is forecast this weekend for the resort of Avoriaz.
It’s fellow resort in the Portes du Soleil, Morzine, as seen some snow at altitude.
And over in Val d’Isere….
Lets not forget the Pyrenees where it has been snowing in ski resorts across the mountain range.
— Vallnord – Pal Arinsal (@palarinsal) September 26, 2020
It’s 15cm and counting in Pas de la Casa in Andorra.
It’s coming down in the French Pyrenees too.
And in Spain
Friday 25th September
The expected storm has arrived with snow at resort level in many resorts in France and others across the Alps.
Here’s the scene in Morzine in the Portes du Soleil:
— Tignes (@TignesOfficiel) September 25, 2020
“This morning there is already a significant covering of snow at altitude, especially across the northern Alps where the temperature has dropped by some 15°C over the last couple of days,” said the alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin, from Weathertoski.co.uk
“After a relative lull this morning in the western Alps, the weather will close in again later today with heavy and persistent snow expected to fall to increasingly low levels this evening and overnight across much of the northern Alps.
“Areas set to benefit include the French Alps north of Grenoble (Tignes, Chamonix, Avoriaz), most of the Swiss Alps (Verbier, Mürren, Engelberg, Davos) except Ticino and some parts of the Engadin, and the Austrian Alps (excluding the Osttirol and Carinthia).
“Much of the northern half of the Alps will see between 35cm and 70cm of new snow above 2500m by the end of Saturday, with up to 1m possible in some favoured spots.
“The rain/snow limit will descend to as low as 1000-1200m later tonight and tomorrow (and as low as 800m in places close to some northern fringes of the Alps), which is very unusual for September.
“Most southern parts of the Alps will also see some snow at altitude but generally not as much as further north. Two southern Alpine resorts that could do better than most are Cervinia and Livigno, where 15-30cm of new snow is possible at altitude.”
Check out Weathertoski for full details.
There is just a dusting in Verbier in Switzerland, but more is on its way.
Snow is forecast further east in Austria, but the storm has not yet arrived.
It comes as the glacier resort of Pitztal in the Tirol in Austria, that opened last weekend (see below), prepares more slopes.
Thursday 24th September
Snow at this time of year is not unusual, but it is often only at altitude.
Over the coming few days it will be falling down to 1,000m across large parts of the the Alps.
Up to 1m in places, with some ski resorts seeing 30-50cms.
Many ski resorts will be transformed, even though they are not open.
In the French Alps dustings of snow have appeared in Val Thorens.
“The first snowflakes are coming Are you ready ?!” said Tignes on social media.
It is barely a taste of what is to come.
“Some favoured spots could even see close to 1m of new snow at altitude, with a dusting to as low as 1000m in places,” said the alpine snow expert, Fraser Wilkin, from weathertoski.co.uk
“Resorts in the northern Alps that will see significant snow at altitude over the coming days (even if they are all currently closed) include Tignes, Chamonix, Flaine, Verbier, Mürren, Engelberg, St Anton and Kaprun.
“The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes (due to open on 17 October) will see at least 50cm of new snow, almost certainly enough to ensure a good start to their ski season.
“Most other glaciers will also benefit to varying degrees, including some that are already open such as Zermatt (where 20-30cm of new snow is expected), Saas-Fee (where 20-30cm of new snow is expected) and Hintertux (where 40-50cm of new snow is expected).”
Check out Weathertoski for more details.
The snow will be great to see, but the weather will come at a cost with some lifts closed as the storms hit over the next few days.
“The snow is going to make a comeback!” said Verbier in Switzerland.
But here’s the cost in the Swiss resort.
“Due to the weather conditions announced for this weekend, we inform you that the Verbier Bikepark and the “Médran – Ruinettes” gondola will be closed this Saturday and Sunday”.
Anyone out hiking or biking in the Alps should keep abreast of the weather conditions as the storms could be ferocious in places
In the Tirol in Austria Pitztal opened for limited skiing and snowboarding last Saturday, 19th September.
It will be seeing some of the snow.
Kaunertal is set to open this Saturday, 26th September.
This weekend skiing and snowboarding starts on the Rettenbachgletscher in Soelden.
Both the openings may be affected by the weather.
Stubai is preparing to open next week.
“We are filled with anticipation. It is getting colder and we are looking forward to starting the new ski season soon,” said a statement from Stubai.
The resort was due to open this Friday, September 25th, but it has been put back to Friday, 2nd October (subject to snow conditions).
We reported on the preparations earlier:
Stubai is one of the first resorts we head to as the season gets underway, though sadly not this year as quarantine measures remain required from Austria back into the UK.
Check out what it normally looks like from one of our recent Autumn visits to the Tirol for our first turns of the winter:
World Cup alpine racing is scheduled to start next month in Soelden, though there will be no spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In preparation the Austrian National Ski Team has been training this week on the Pitztal glacier.
“That was a very high-quality training session,” said racer, Roland Leitinger.
“For the first time we were in really steep terrain.
“Training runs of over a minute are very intense at this altitude – that feels good.”
“It is perfect that we can train on the Pitztal Glacier at this time of the year,” said another racer, Stefan Brennsteiner.
“It is not easy to find good conditions at the moment.
“The training here is very important for us because the opening race in Soelden is one of the toughest races of the whole season – we can prepare very well here.”
The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup is scheduled to open with two legs in Austria – the first is the giant slalom in Soelden.
Next is parallel giant slalom in Lech/Zürs.
Levi in Finland will then hold a slalom in November, before a break of three weeks in the competition due to the cancellation of the North American leg due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resorts of Ruka and Levi in Finland are set to open on October 2nd.
Cold temperatures this coming weekend should help things along nicely.
They also stockpile snow from last winter, cover it in the summer months and it is now set to be spread out on the slopes.
And while we talking about snow it’s falling over in North America too.
There’s been a dusting at one of our favourite resorts across the Pond – Kicking Horse in British Columbia in Canada.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article over the next few days as the expected snow arrives in the Alps…
Do check back…