If you are thinking about taking a ski trip to any of the popular or lesser known European ski areas, consider checking European snow reports before deciding when to go.
European Snow Conditions
European snow conditions have been unpredictable in the past decade. For example, a December 1, 2006 article published on Times Online described warm conditions and minimal snow in December of that year. Birds were delaying their winter migration and the World Cup Series was canceled and moved to Colorado.
In December of the same year, the New York Times featured an article on Kitzbühel, in Austria, and suggested that global warming posed a threat to the local ski conditions. Like the American ski resorts, the European ski season begins in late November and ends in April, but if you look at the retrospective on Pisthors, a site that posts European snow reports, you will see that the season usually peaks in March and April.
How European Snow Conditions Affect Ticket Prices
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has published a book titled Climate Change in the European Alps: Adapting Winter Tourism and Natural Hazards Management. A chapter of the book describes the financial measures taken by European resorts in response to the unpredictable snow conditions. Some resorts offer last-minute travel deals. Others, such as the Austrian ski resorts, offer a flexible lift ticket policy, which is based on the number of trails that are open.
How to Interpret European Weather Reports
Like all ski resorts, European ski areas use various marketing techniques when featuring snow reports. You need to use your judgment to interpret their true meaning. First of all, Europeans use Celsius when listing temperatures. To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply the Celsius temperature by 1.8, and then add 32. Europe also uses the metric system to measure recent snowfall and to report on the existing base. To convert the meters to inches, multiply the number of meters by 39.37. Knowledge of both the predicted temperatures and snowfall is important for a number of reasons. First off, snow is limited when it is extremely cold or extremely warm. Secondly, snow making equipment will only function in colder temperatures.
Where to Find European Snow Reports
A number of online sites feature up to date snow reports for European resorts. Many are written in French, Spanish or Italian, but some British websites list them in English. These are just a few of them:
- Snow Forecast: Snowforecast.com offers long-range weather reports. The website has a cool, interactive ski map, which tells you the conditions of a given area. Clicking on a specific area also gives you a general overview of the resort. The Snow Blog features up to date commentary about the conditions at various European resorts.
- On the Snow: MySlopes.com lists weather and snow reports for resorts throughout Europe. It also has a top 100 list, which is arranged according to the resorts with the highest amount of snow. Myslopes can also send European snow reports to your cell phone.
- SnowBrains: Offers snow reports and forecasts for all over the world.
Finding Snow Reports on Ski Message Forums
European ski and snow reports are helpful for planning a ski vacation, but first-hand accounts can give you a better idea of what is really going on at European resorts. Snowheads is a user-friendly, British ski forum, which is populated by a prolific group of snow-sport enthusiasts. As of January of 2010, the website had 18,598 members. Memberships to forums are free, and are often the best way to get first-hand accounts of European ski conditions.