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SNOW NEWS UPDATED 12 NOVEMBER 2019

INTRODUCTION Winter (by the meteorological measure) is now less than three weeks away in the northern hemisphere and the 19-20 ski season continues to build on both sides of the Atlantic.

AUSTRIA Austria continues to have the most ski areas open in Europe although the US is now well ahead in terms of the number of areas open in one country, getting to more than 30 ski centres now, whilst Austria remains on nine. Austria should get into double figures, and stay ahead of Switzerland (on seven) at the weekend though as the first of the country's areas that are not reliant on glaciers or snow farming to open, but just have reputations for reliable snow on their higher slopes. Obergurgl, Schladming and Turracher Hohe are amongst those aiming to open later this week for their 19-20 season. Of the nine areas that are already open, there have been more fresh snowfall days interspersed with beautiful clear sunny days. Hintertux (0/80cm) and Solden (0/154cm), which have both had 20-30cm more fresh snow in the past 48 hours, both have around 40km of runs open, probably the most of any areas in the world at present. All the snow has caused some issues however and there were two avalanche deaths at Solden at the weekend, the first of the winter, when two very experienced skiers headed off-piste but apparently miscalculated the conditions.

April Magic, Méribel

FRANCE Tignes (30/120cm) remains the only ski area open in France with half a dozen trails open. The Grands Montets and Les Houches ski areas in the Chamonix Valley have named this Saturday 16th November as their target opening date, but this is yet to be confirmed for sure. In addition, the glacier but Val Thorens is due to join it in a little over a week. There has been more snow in the French alps and indeed in most mountainous regions of France with the French Pyrenees seeing some particularly heavy snow in recent days with resorts like Cauterets and Piau Engaly reporting 90-120cm (3-4 feet) accumulations. So far none have announced early openings, however - but that may change

Lenzerheide sunrise

SWITZERLAND Switzerland's good start to the season has continued (albeit still early days of course) with more snow falling and much more in the forecast. Three more areas have now opened with Andermatt (30/200cm), where the Gemsstock's ski slopes opened on Saturday, immediately posting the deepest snow in the world so far this season and the first in the northern hemisphere to reach two metres. It's one of many ski areas in the Alps to just be opening at weekends in November. Glacier 3000 (10/46cm), the ski area shared by Gstaad and Les Diablerets, also opened, as did Verbier's slopes. This takes the number of Swiss areas open to seven with Saas Fee (20/50cm) now reporting more than 25km of runs already open, the most in Switzerland so far. Zermatt (8/70cm) has the highest slopes open in the Alps and the biggest skiable vertical open so far for 19-20. At least four more Swiss areas may open this coming weekend although only Crans Montana has confirmed at time of compilation. Davos, Grimentz and Laax may also open. The latter has said it has been ready to open for several weeks now but last week delayed doing so due to strong winds forecast.

La baraka, Pila

ITALY Cortina d'Ampezzo (20/50cm) was the surprise opening last weekend when the resort opened 20 days earlier than planned thanks to a 50cm snowfall in the Dolomites. With the Presena Glacier (100/150cm) and Solda (20/50cm) also opening Italy is now up to six ski areas open for 2019/20 now. The country has seen more snow over the past few days with up to 50cm more snow reported in parts of Trentino since the weekend. Cervinia (30/140cm) has the most terrain open with ten runs to choose from. More areas are due to open this weekend including Alagna, Madonna di Campiglio and Santa Caterina are on the list.

Sol y nieve, Grandvalira-Pas de la Casa

ANDORRA Andorra's looking pretty good with just over a fortnight to go to the expected start of the season at the end of this month. There's about 50cm of cover now on upper slopes with a lot more snowfall in the past week. There similar volumes of snow across the Spanish Pyrenees and (as mentioned above), deeper still on the French side. This time last year La Molina and Masella's Alp 2500 ski area had been open a fortnight after opening very early following a huge October 2018 snowstorm. This year there's nowhere open yet by Alp 2500 say they expect to open the weekend after next.

NORWAY/SWEDEN Things are looking pretty good for the start of the 19-20 season in Scandinavia too where it has been largely cold with some fresh snowfall. Another half dozen ski areas have opened in Norway, Finland and Sweden over the weekend so we're now into double figures for the number of areas already open. Ruka (0/25cm) in Finland has one of the bigger areas open so far, already into the second month of the 19-20 season with over a dozen trails now open. Levi (0/35cm) is building up to hosting the World Cup the weekend after next. Pyha is the next Finnish area due to open this coming weekend. Bjorli (60/60cm) is one of the new openers in Norway, already posting the deepest base in the region to date with lots of fresh snow. Trysil is due to open at the weekend and the region's biggest ski area, Are In Sweden, should be opening too.

Cable car on top of Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen-Zugspitze

GERMANY There's been snow for German slopes too and although none of the country's larger ski areas are expected to open any time soon, one of its small centres, Schwärzenlifts in Eschach, which has four drag lifts, says it will open this weekend after the first natural snowfalls topped up by snowmaking in the area.

Mosta (The Bridge) Lift, Bansko

BULGARIA The signs continue to look promising across Eastern Europe with more fresh snowfalls and cover building in most areas. Chopok in the Slovak Republic was one of the latest to post images of great cover across the slopes. Most Eastern European areas won't open until early December but hopefully, the signs are good for a successful start in most areas once it arrives.

SCOTLAND Scotland's hills are white once again after more fresh snow has fallen over the past few days and nights. The centre's operators are keen to stress that whilst it's looking promising at this stage, it's still early days in terms of reaching reliable snow cover in order to be able to open. That said several areas have also been firing up their snowmaking systems after a prolonged period of cold, often sub-zero temperatures have persisted, unusually for this time of year in the modern era.

View over The Sea of Japan, Chisenupurri

JAPAN There's still just one small area in Japan open, using plus-temps snowmaking machines, but Niseko posted its first centimetre of snowfall of the autumn at the end of last week, a bit of a relief with resorts due to start opening later this month.

USA The US is really the country to be to ski at the moment with more than 20 areas now open in 10 states after more resorts opened at the weekend, particularly in the Midwest, but also on the East and West Coasts. The majority are, as yet, however, only open at weekends. Among the big names starting their seasons were Mammoth Mountain, the first in California; Sunday River, the first in Maine and Copper Mountain Resort and Breckenridge Ski Area in Colorado, where the lifts started spinning at 9 am last Friday, November 8th. They take the number of areas open in Colorado to seven, with Copper (46/46cm) opening three lifts, accessing 90 acres of terrain across five trails, whilst Breckenridge (46/46cmm) opened the BreckConnect Gondola to access 200 acres of terrain. There's not been much fresh snow in the past week in the US, just an inch or so in Colorado after a warm weekend. Mammoth opened with a purely machine-made base on one run. It's actually newly opened ski areas in the Midwest like Brule (91/91cm) in Michigan and Wild Mountain (15/91cm) that are posting the deepest snow numbers in the country. Big-name resorts due to open for the season this weekend include Squaw Valley and Vail. Steamboat will also be opening in Colorado on what will be the earliest date in 50 years after receiving record October snowfall.

CANADA The 19-20 ski season continues to gather pace in Canada too. With Sunshine (51/51cm) and Marmot Basin (40/40cm) opening at the weekend, there are now five areas open in Alberta including all three Banff ski centres. Lake Louise (70/84cm) meanwhile, posted 35cm (14 inches) of fresh snowfall at the weekend to provide some great powder conditions to start the week. The other two Banff areas got 10cm less but still plenty of fresh. The season is also underway on Canada's East coast where warm temperatures in October delayed the start there. Snowmaking systems have been working flat out since temperatures dipped however and Mont Saint Sauveur (0/20cm) was the first to open here, at the weekend.

EUROPEAN WEATHER OUTLOOK The unsettled weather that has been a feature of the past fortnight now in the Alps shows no sign of change really with a mixture of more sunny days and more heavy-0snow days stretching into the week ahead. The good news is that the snowy days look like they'll be very snowy with most of the already open areas (and many not yet open) forecast to receive 50cm or more snow by Thursday/Friday then more snow at the weekend too. It's a similar picture for Western Italy and the Dolomites with some very heavy snow expected across the region through the week ahead. It's looking very snowy in the Pyrenees too with lighter snow on Wednesday giving way to potentially days of heavy snow bringing over a metre more snow to some areas by the start of next week if forecasts layout as predicted. For Scotland, it's looking like more cold weather ahead and more snowfall on the ski slopes through the coming week.

NORTH AMERICAN WEATHER OUTLOOK It's looking like another mostly dry and sunny week in the Western US with temperatures a little above freezing. The North East of the country is, however, due to receive a good snowfall of 10-30cm at the weekend according to current forecasts, with the snow starting to fall from Friday on. Over the Canadian border the picture is mixed too with initially colder, snowier weather in the east but the potential for 20-40cm accumulations in provinces to the west including Alberta and BC later in the weekend and into the start of next week.