20 March 2020 from Danielle in Mountain weather

Normally we would publish this blog at the end of April, but since the coronavirus has put an early end to ski season, we'd like to recap what the winter was like this year. This will be the last weather report until next season - no sense in reporting on fresh snow when we can't get to the Alps! In many ways, 2019/20 was another roller coaster ride. November started out with heavy snowfall, making many skiers and snowboarders optimistic, but this was followed by a warm, dry period that lasted for much of the winter. While snow did manage to stick in some places, these slopes had spring skiing conditions, with officials in many regions saying this was the warmest winter on record. Keep reading for more details on ski season 2019/20.

Snowed-in November

Starting in September we already saw white webcams, a promising start to the winter! By the end of October it was full-on winter, with cold temperatures all the way down into the valleys. November 5th saw the season's first big snowfall. On November 12 Snowplaza reporters Miranda and Yvonne travelled to Gurgl to start preparations for the Snowplaza Ski Opening. After a day of enjoying clear skies and fresh snow, things suddenly went sideways! It seemed like a repeat of January 2019, with "snow chaos" overtaking many ski resorts and setting snowfall records. Some places received twice the normal amount of snow that usually falls in all of November - in just 48 hours! The snow brought about road closures and many households lost their power. Our team was snowed-in and "trapped" in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl for an extra night. Luckily for everyone who attended the Snowplaza Ski Opening in Gurgl, the pistes stayed white for opening weekend!

digging car out of snow
Yvonne and Miranda found their car buried in snow this November

Enough snow over the Christmas holidays

From mid-November onwards, snowfall followed snowfall and gradually distributed a coat of white over the Alps. This meant that most ski resorts were able to open successfully by December. At this point our team was on the road again in  Innsbruck, Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, and enjoyed perfect conditions in all these ski areas. The pistes had plenty of snow and the villages had a true winter feel. The Christmas holidays started off well, with initial snowfalls followed by nice weather. Many skiers and snowboarders who were lucky enough to be in the Alps at this time will agree that it was the best week of the season, with fresh snow, calm skies, little to no wind and lots of sunshine. Spring skiing weather! This bout of clear weather was followed by one more final snowfall, and then a whole month of dry and sunny weather.

Zillertal Arena
Mid-December saw great skiing weather in many ski resorts, including here in the Zillertal Arena

January: sunny and mild

January seemed to be the perfect month for a ski holiday. There was enough snow, especially in the first half of the month when ski resort villages were still wintery, and the sun was shining almost every day. Temperatures seemed more representative of spring than of winter, with many people enjoying lunch and après-ski outside on the sunny terraces. In January our team was in Switzerland and snapped lots of great pics with blue skies and white pistes! There was just one significant snowfall, the week of January 19-20, when it felt like winter again. But otherwise the sun stuck around until the end of the month. And that is where February's problems started.

skiing in Davos
January was a great month, as shown here at Davos

A very hit-and-miss, mild and alternately stormy February

Winter didn't quite manage to impose itself on February. There were plenty of snowfalls, with nice days in between, but also plenty of rain. The start of February burst in with a roaring storm, forcing many ski resorts to shut their lifts. And during the busiest holiday weeks of the year, the weather was unstable and unpredictable, with occasional snowfalls interspersed with heavy wind and then random sunny intervals. The weather eventually grew colder, still with periods of snow alternating with sunny periods. Then there was a serious storm, which shut down many ski resorts. So all in all, not the most successful February as ski seasons go.

Maart: unpredictable weather and unwelcome sunshine

March started off with a series of snowfalls. Our team visited the Swiss ski resorts of Morgins, Veysonnaz, Nendaz, Fiesch and Bettmeralp and enjoyed fresh snow and sunshine in every resort. Monday, March 2 in particular saw up to a metre of snow. And our colleague Florien, who was in Val Gardena that week, reported similar conditions. The second week of March was hit-or-miss, but by this time most ski resorts were closed due to the coronavirus. And we're currently in the third week of March, with some sun poking through the clouds but temperatures remaining mild. We'll have to make do with seeing pictures of this on the webcams, because for now most of us can't get to the Alps (and our thoughts go out to the ones who are stuck there!). Check back in early fall as we report on the first snowfalls of the 2020/21 season. Here's to hoping for a bumper year to make up for this one!

powder snow
Was this the most beautiful day of the season? Sun-drenched slopes and fresh snow in Veysonnaz on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Best wishes to all our readers! Stay safe and happy summer!

Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!