The Arlberg opening weekend – the best conditions in recent memory

With more than half a metre of snow falling across the Arlberg and frigid, piercing blue skies today, this was as good as it gets for opening weekends anywhere.

Astonishing conditions greeted skiers and snowboarders in the Austrian Arlberg for the opening weekend. Over half a metre of fresh snow blanketed the Tirol and Vorarlberg from Friday into Saturday. And this wasn’t a superficial dusting either, the snowpack in the Lech Zürs ski area is already 240cm.

The snow capital of the Alps

Historic snow data places the Arlberg resorts of Warth and Zürs as the 1st and 2nd snowiest ski areas in the Alps, with weather systems streaming in from the northwest and rising up over the Bregenzerwald peaks, the snow storms are almost mythical. 240cm of snow in the first week of December is mighty impressive for Lech Zürs, yet with an annual accumulation of over 10m, it is not exceptional.

Beyond the Arlberg

The snow wasn’t confined to the Arlberg, Kitzbühel is buried under deep snow, whilst the wider region of Munich and as far as the Czech Republic received heavy snow. On the southern borders of Tirol, the Stubai Glacier had over 60cm in one day. Further afield the webcams of Morzine-Avoriaz are showing a ski area transformed in a day, whilst Chamonix le Brévent is blanketed.

Such a strange autumn – mild and dry, and then boom, straight into deep winter. These snow accumulations are such a fillip for the season openings but beyond that they should sustain the ski areas into January, especially with more snow forecast this week.

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