The snowy September has continued in Europe’s high Alps with three big snowfalls this month. 10 ski areas have already opened for the 2017-18 ski season and two more (Tignes in France and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier in Austria) will open this coming weekend.
Lucky skiers and boarders enjoyed the rare treat of a powder day in summer as some ski areas saw nearly one meter (over 3 feet) of September snow!
Snow in summer is not unusual on glaciers in the Alps, but the consistency and continued snow storms in the Alps this September is more unusual, and has got skiers’ pulses racing for the ski season ahead.
The snow was particularly welcome as the previous four months had been exceptionally hot in the southern half of Europe where the Alps are located. There are about 20 ski areas here that offer skiing and snowboarding on their glaciers at various points between the end of one regular ski season in April and the start of the next in December. The hot spring and summer melted through the snow cover on several glaciers, forcing several to temporarily suspend summer skiing until the early onset of ‘winter’ this month. Now, several glacier ski areas have opened earlier than planned because of all the fresh snow.
The first September snow storm was largely limited to Alpine glaciers above about 8,200 feet (2500m). However, snow has continued to fall to lower elevations, allowing resorts at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1500m) to excitedly post snowy videos and pictures at village level.
Of the 12 ski areas in the Alps that will be open this weekend, half are in Austria. Here, ski areas compete to offer the best autumn conditions and throw ‘autumn beer festival’ celebrations, complete with new gear testing on their glacier.
There are also ski areas open in Switzerland (including Zermatt, which has Europe’s highest ski slope—up to 12,792 feet) and Italy. When Tignes opens on Saturday, September 30, it will be the first in France to open for the 17-18 season. Outside of the Alps, Norway’s Galdhoppigen glacier is reported to have the deepest in the world at present with 10-13 feet (3-4m).
Europe’s skiers are now holding their breaths ahead of the upcoming season. The past three winters have had ‘slow starts’ in Europe with warmer temperatures than most would like and limited natural snowfall.
Here’s to hoping that this abundance of late summer September snow will keep falling right through to the start of the 2017-18 season!