World Snow Wrap, December 25 – Powder Days in the US and Canada, Epic but Empty Conditions in Japan, Europe at the Crossroads

December 24th, 2020
Dash Longe getting deep in some classic dry Utah powder last weekend in Alta. Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss

Merry Christmas and if you are lucky enough to be somewhere snowy in the Northern Hemisphere, we hope you’re getting in a few Chrissy day turns. Not long to go before we say goodbye (or good riddance) to 2020 and it looks like there will be plenty of powder to wrap up the year with snow on the way in Japan, Europe, Canada and the US.


Johan Rosen, cruising through the pow in Revelstoke on December 20. Revvy has received 83cms in the past week and it’s been pretty good. Photo: Hywel Williams


It has been a pretty good week in Canada with solid snow storms earlier in the week delivering some pre-Christmas powder to Whistler, Interior BC and the Banff resorts. There are some very impressive 7-day totals through to Tuesday with Revelstoke and Kicking Horse getting 105cms, Fernie 83cms, Whistler 83cms on the upper  mountain while Big White received 60cms. After a couple of days of settled weather, another storm is due Christmas Day with Whistler Blackcomb likely to receive 15-20cms over the weekend while resorts in Interior BC are expected to get around 10cms.


Dylan Siggers having a fun time in Fernie, BC on Dec 20. Photo: Steve Reed

The storm also tracked inland and dropped some decent snow across resorts in Alberta last weekend, Sunshine reporting 46cms Lake Louise 22cms. A second storm dropped another 24cms in Lake Louise and Sunshine on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it has eased with cold temps and snow flurries forecast across the weekend.


The past two weeks have seen some solid storms across the West delivering good powder days in Utah, Wyoming, the Cascades and northern Colorado. Alta was at its best after receiving 60cms of light, dry Utah pow last week while Jackson Hole had 45cms over a four-day period. Steamboat did the best of the Colorado resorts with 30cms last week. Snowfalls have continued across the Rockies over the past two days with Aspen seeing a healthy 25cms in the past two days while Vail received 12cms mid-week.


Flipping towards a soft landing off the Kangaroo Kicker in Squaw valley last weekend.

Once again, the Cascades have seen some big totals with Mt Baker receiving 70cms last week ahead of a second storm and another 15-25cms in the past two days. After a dry period, the Sierra’s also received some snow last week with more terrain opening and a fun early season freshies in resorts around Lake Tahoe and Mammoth last weekend.

The forecast is for widespread snowfalls over the next week with the first storm set to hit California’s Sierras this weekend, with 15-25cms forecast for Squaw Valley and the Tahoe resorts while the latest model runs are calling 10-15cms for Mammoth across the weekend. It looks like it will be a fine Christmas Day in the Rockies ahead of a storm arriving over the weekend with Jackson Hole in line for 15cms on the weekend while a storm for Colorado is due early next week which could deliver good snow totals.


It has been a good couple of weeks in resorts on both Honshu and Hokkaido with consistent snowfalls and quality powder. To top it off the lack of international visitors mean the slopes are uncrowded as the locals usually start hitting the mountains during the last week of December. Hakuba saw some big snowfalls last week with over a metre in five days while the past four days have seen a small 10cms top-up. Another front is due Christmas Day, the latest forecast calling for 30cms by Monday.  It was a similar story in Nozawa Onsen which had 75cms last weekend and Myoko which has had a massive 154cms in the past week!


Ski patrol had plenty of work to do before lifts opened in santos, hakuba last week,

Hokkaido also had some healthy snowfalls over the past week with Furano receiving 30cms on the 19thand then another 17cms overnight on Monday into Tuesday. Niseko also had some big falls with 85cms in the past week including 40cms last weekend. The snow falls eased mid-week, but another storm is set to drop 25cms in Niseko over the next few days with another front and more snow due in the middle of next week. The forecast for Furano is 10-15cms this weekend  ahead of another 15-20cms mid-week.

Don’t forget to stay up to date with conditions in Japan through tour daily on-the-ground snow reports for Niseko, Furano and Hakuba.


Not much happening snow-wise in Europe over the past 10 days, but that is about to change with snow in the forecast this weekend. Of course, resorts in the Alps, other than in Switzerland, have been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. There has been some tightening of restrictions by some local governments in Switzerland including the closure of Andermatt resort.  Some other resorts have closed some expert/advanced terrain and to reduce injuries and the pressure on hospitals.


Valentino Guseli is on Australia’s Olympic Winter Institute team and had perfect weather of training in Corvatsch, Switzerland this week. Photo: Mike Lund

The big news in Europe is ski lifts in Austrian resorts are due to open to the public today, but only to locals with no accommodation or overnight stays available. That is scheduled to change on January 7 when tourists will be welcome. Jan 7 is also the date when current lockdowns of resorts in Italy, France and Germany are set to re-open, but given the numbers of Covid-19 cases across Europe, that may change.

As far as the snow goes, the forecast is for good snowfalls and cold temp in France, Switzerland and Austria this weekend while Italy’s Dolomites region is set for some huge falls early next week.

Where We’d Like to Be This Week.

Hakuba. All resorts in the valley have seen a lot of snow over the past 10 days and there is more on the way. There are no international visitors, so the slopes are quiet and there will be some great powder days next week.