As someone who has been snowboarding now for a decade, March (and even the beginning of April) has often proved to offer the best skiing. There is often a good base, fresh snow and slightly warmer — therefore more pleasant — weather to enjoy the slopes.
However, over the past three winters, this trend has been bucked. Yes, the snow has been good in March, but for the past three years January and — surprisingly — February have offered the best powder the Alps have seen for years. Going through the snow reports, forecast and snow history on Igluski.com and Snow-Forecast.com, you can see the early-to-mid season, is the time to hit the slopes.
Last season was the first time in 20 years that Meribel — one of the most popular resorts with British skiers — boasted more snow than Val d’Isere (an equally popular, but higher resort) and this winter seems to be taking on the same trend. So, to take a look at when the best time to ski really is, I’ve looked through the snow history data for Meribel over the past five seasons, including the current one.
If you look at the graph (above), you can see the in two of the last four seasons the snow peaked in March, whereas for the past two winters there has been heavy snowfall in January and a peak in February. Looking at the current conditions (below), this trend seems to be continuing as there has been over 350cm of snowfall this season, including a whopping 66cm over the past week.
The snow forecast in Meribel over the next few days shows the continuing trend of good snowfall during February (see below) and if you have a membership to Snow-Forecast.com you will be able to see on the nine day forecast that snow is continuing to fall until the middle of the month.
So, with the slopes often being quieter in January and February — YSE in Val d’Isere are claiming this coming week is the quietest of the season — and the snowfall offering consistent powder over the past few winters, is the first half of the season becoming the time to ski?
I will certainly be looking to take advantage of the January prices next winter, as opposed to paying the March premium, even if it means packing an extra pair of thermals, as opposed to some sun block!