World Snow Wrap Feb 19 – Utah Had Two Metres in Five Days, Snow on The Way For Whistler, Japan’s Epic Season Continues

February 19th, 2021
Quality Utah powder in Brighton this week – always a highlight for any skier or snowboarder. Photo: Brighton Resort

Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss

The past two weeks have seen a bit of everything in the Northern Hemisphere with Japan having a couple of warm spells in between deep powder, Canada has been fine but freezing, it’s all sunshine in Europe and there have been some ridiculously deep days in the Northern Rockies.


It has been a mixed couple of weeks in Japan with heavy snowfalls and good powder days last week followed by warm weather and rain earlier in the week. The rain turned to snow in Hokkaido on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday Lucy Morrell our reporter in Furano wrote that, “the mix of yesterday’s warmth and rain plus snow meant this morning we’re all barricaded in our houses behind freezing slush.” Not to worry, it’s been all about powder since.

In Niseko the rain also turned to snow on Tuesday night leaving 46cms of fresh snow and temps at -8 with good powder on offer. There was another 25cms yesterday and the storm should clear today. The forecast is for the chance of rain across Hokkaido tomorrow, but the Grasshopper’s calling for a return to snow after dark night and continuing on Sunday.


Tail grab three into a soft landing in Niseko on Wednesday. Photo: @seaandsummitphotography

Further south there was a burst of sunshine and spring like weather at the start of the week, but winter made a comeback with Hakuba reporting 25cms on Wednesday morning followed by another 30cms in the next 24 hours. Temps were down to -10, delivering some quality powder for those lucky enough to enjoy the empty-mid-week slopes. The last of the snow showers will clear today but there could be some rain tomorrow night and then another wet system on Monday. The good news is the GH reckons that will turn to snow and “we’ll see cold northwesterlies swoop down over the country in the early hours of Tuesday with heavy snowfall.”


While the news has been talking about unusual snowfalls in Texas, for skiers and snowboarders the real news is further north in the Rockies where resorts in Utah and Wyoming have been getting hammered. In Jackson Hole February has been a huge month with over two metres and it has had 120cms in the past five days.

However, that pales into almost insignificance with what has been happening in Utah where a five-day storm has resulted in massive amount of snow in the Wasatch Range, Alta receiving 2.5 metres since Feb 12 and Snowbird has had just over two metres. Both resorts have been closed due to the avalanche danger and nearly impossible task to open lifts while the road is also closed and for two days there was no interlodge travel in the resorts – i.e. you have to stay indoors.


All hands on deck in Snowbird on Feb 16. Photo: Snowbird resort

That storm has finally eased, but another one is due for the northern Rockies late in the weekend with another 24-35cm for resorts in Utah while 50cms is forecast for Jackson Hole across the weekend.

Colorado also saw some decent snow with Aspen receiving 50cms in the past week while Vail has had 45cms. The forecast is for more snow in Colorado’s Rockies this weekend with another 15-25cms expected by Monday. In California there were some decent snowfalls in the Tahoe resorts last weekend with settled weather since, but another system is due on the weekend with another 15-20cms in the forecast. Mammoth has been dry, but cold temps are maintaining the snow but a 10-15cm reset is forecast tomorrow.


The past fortnight has seen clear but extremely cold weather in Canada, with daily max temps in interior BC and Alberta dropping to mins 27!!! The extreme freezing temps saw some resorts closed due to unsafe conditions – frostbite is a real concern – with Sunshine in Banff closed for four days.

After a run of sunshine, Whistler Blackcomb has had a few snowfalls this past week with 16cms in the past 24 hours. It was a similar story in Big White which had received 25cms in the past week while snowfalls have been lighter further inland, Revelstoke receiving 12cms in the past week.


Ian Dans laying it over on perfect corduroy in Big White last week. Photo:  Andrew Jay

Back to back storms are due this weekend in British Columbia, favouring the west with and Whistler Blackcomb set to receive 70cms from tonight through to Monday. Interior resorts will also receive some good totals, the second system the strongest with 40 to 50cms possible for Revelstoke and Kicking Horse by Tuesday morning.

In Alberta, temps will return to a more pleasant -7 to -12 degrees and snowfalls will increase late in the weekend, the five-day forecast calling 25-30cm for Lake Louise by mid-week.


After the heavy snowfalls of a few weeks ago the past week has been mainly fine across the Alps with a few isolated snowfalls in Switzerland. This has been good news for the fair-weather skiers in Switzerland and Austria where lifts are spinning and the on-piste skiing has been excellent, but for other countries the pandemic closures continue.

Italian resorts were expecting to finally open last Monday, but last weekend the government changed its mind and announced that ski resorts would remain closed at least until March 5. Although Italian resorts are closed for recreational skiers they are open for elite training and races and the FIS Alpine World Championships were held in Cortina D’Ampazzo last week in perfect conditions. Nice for some.


Perfect weather for the Alpine World Championships in Cortina D’Ampazzo last week. Photo:

In France resorts are open to local visitors for snow play and hiking, but lifts are still closed and there is hope that they may be allowed to open in spring. However, for resorts in Italy and France you have to wonder whether it will be worth the effort now that the busiest part of the season is long gone. On a brighter note, conditions in the backcountry have been safer with a more settled snowpack and the forecast is for mainly fine weather with a few light snowfalls possible over the weekend.

Where We’d Like To Be This Week

Myoko. The place is awesome, it’s empty and next week is looking good for 40cms and temps down at -9. Kapow!!