Northern Ski Season Glitters into Life

It was all looking a little touch-and-go for snow at the beginning of December 2011, but in the past few weeks the Northern Hemisphere ski season has flurried and (in some cases) blizzarded into life.

Gala Yuzawa, Niigata, Japan [Source: Gala website]


Lets talk about Japan first, as that's where we are off to in a few weeks. The snow was very thin on the ground until a few days before christmas. Most areas were grass, save for some of the high-altitude snow resorts.

And then a storm brought snow over three days, with some dumps of epic proportions in western Japan. Once again, Niigata shone as a bright and strong powder magnet. Some of the ski areas around Myoko, Yuzawa and Nozawa Onsen suddenly went from no snow to 200cms. A local snow reporter talked about "waist-deep"!

Hakuba eventually got its share as well and only the Shiga Kogen resorts appeared to miss out on the heavy dumps.
Most of the big ski areas are now sitting on 150-250cms, with the smaller, lower resorts already close to a metre. A very fine situation for the end of December and full of promise for another stunning winter season.

Formigal, Spain [Source: Formigal on Facebook]

The European resorts also spluttered into action before christmas. In the Alps there are around 2 metres up high, but much less snow cover at lower altitudes. Val D'Isere has as much as 200cms up high.

However, Isola and Val D'Allos in the Southern Alps, and the Pyrenees ski resorts in France, Spain and Andorra have struggled, but at least they now have some snow. Most of these resorts have about 50cms of snow on the ground, which is fairly patchy for returning to the villages.

There is a good forecast for snow in the French Alps in the next few days, and more snowfalls for Japan over the next week. Happy New Year!

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