The strongest El Niño in 50 years has been predicated for this winter. The deputy director of the NOAA (National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center, Mike Halpert, has reported “this could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950.”
Experiencing an El Niño this winter is awesome news for skiers and snowboarders as this could mean we receive much more snow than an average winter... and more snow means more powder days!
Every 2–7 years an area of the tropical regions in the Pacific Ocean warms up and distorts the weather patterns in the western Ocean, including Australia, North and South America and even parts of Europe and Africa, this is called El Niño.
The National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) recent report predicts the El Niño will persist through winter before settling down in spring. There have already been signs of the start of El Niño this summer, such as the record number of storms during the central Pacific hurricane season.
The 2 strongest previous events were in 1982-83 and 1997-98, in 1997-98 there was powder day after powder day and amazing conditions across the Alps. Now the World Meteorological Organisation is predicting that this phenomenon could be one of the strongest on record. “At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997” - Bill Patzert (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist) It’s had been reported that the start of winter in December and January will be quite mild, then in February we will see a change to a colder winter that will most likely feature several storms and significant snow.
California - Resorts could receive between 30-40% more precipitation. This could mean great things for ski holidays in Heavenly, Northstar, Mammoth and Lake Tahoe. Colorado – After a wetter than usual spring, the trend should continue through the winter to create a much more seasonable winter than last year. Vail Resorts are optimistic for a fantastic winter in their resorts, including Park City, Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek. An El Niño often means that Europe is prone to heavy rain and storms and a colder than average winter.
If you are looking for the best snow this season, take a read of our top 5 snow sure ski resorts in Europe
The Tirol region in Austria is one of the most exciting places to be this winter. With the rise in UK arrivals in the area last season there have been lots of new and improved innovations in Tirol over this summer. From new linked ski areas, to enhanced lift infrastructure and new accommodations, there has never been a better time to visit Austrian Tirol. Find out more about what's new for the Austrian Tirol this season.
Here are the top 5 ski resorts that will be well worth the visit this season:
After years of talk about linking up with Saalbach, this will finally be a reality from December 2015. This area will become the talk of Austria as huge possibilities will open up. The new, high speed Tirol S gondola will link Fieberbrunn in Tirol with Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang in Salzburgerland. This new connection will join up 270km of piste and will become the largest interconnected ski area and most varied in Austria.
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Sölden will be the talk of the town when it hits the silver screen this winter in the James Bond film, Spectre. Anything good enough for 007 will be popular amongst fans and will be the place to be this season. Sölden is an Alpine Ski World Cup venue and one of the most famous ski areas in the world. The state of the art lift system teamed with the 145km of perfect pistes makes this resort a dazzling diamond in Tirol. The 3 mountain peaks over 3000m and 2 glacier ski areas makes the resort one of the most snow-sure in Austria. Powder hounds will bask in the freeride ski and snowboard area at the Gaislachkogl peak. If you heading over this way this winter, don’t forget to ski down the 15km route from Schwarze Schneide at Rettenbach Glacier.
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Mayrhofen is popular among Britons because it is a great all-round resort for both skiers and snowboarders. This season Mayrhofen will be unveiling the new and improved Penkenbahn which is now a state of the art 3S gondola. This will dramatically reduce the lift queues and waiting times getting up the mountain. Mayrhofen and the Ziller Vally resorts (which are linked by easy bus and train links) have a hugely varied circus of pistes which cater for all levels, including high glacier runs, expert parks, pretty tree lined runs and leisurely slopes. The après is up there with the best of Austria; from on-mountain après at the igloo White lounge to dancing on the tables at Brück'n Stadl to late night partying at Harakiri. With brilliant skiing, fun après, large town with plenty of shops and restaurants, plus easy transport links to explore the surrounding areas it’s no surprise that thousands of Brits head here.
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This first rate ski resort is consistently our top seller in Austria. Whilst you’re not skiing or snowboarding on your holiday you want to be discovering the best après ski, and St Anton is renowned as the best ski party town in the world. Intermediate and advanced riders will love the range of challenging pistes across St Anton and the Arlberg region, plus there are plenty of back country areas if you are looking to head off piste with a guide.
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The charming fairytale town, large ski area and friendly Austrian atmosphere keep skiers and snowboarders coming back year after year. Kitzbuhel is the text book example of Austrian skiing and offers everything you would want for a ski holiday in Tirol. In the recent Ski Club of Great Britain consumer research report, Kitzbuhel had the biggest jump in the Top 10 ski resorts, jumping up an incredible 36 ranks to spot number 8 confirming its popularity over last season. The home of the prestigious Hahnenkamm ski race offers 170km of varied ski slopes across the large mountain range. From the mix of blues and red runs on the home mountain, to the fun freeride areas around the 3S and Jochberg to the wide blues at Pass Thurn and the beginner slopes at the Kitzbuheler Horn, there is something for everyone.
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For years I’ve had a fascination about visiting Norway. When I’m not dreaming of soaring mountains or powder fields, I’m thinking about majestic fjords, the northern lights and road trips down the Norwegian coastline. While I make plans for a longer Scandinavian adventure, I decided to end off summer with an impulse city break to Norway’s capital, Oslo. After a 2 hour flight from London and a 45 minute train from the airport to the city centre we were in the extraordinary city. What strikes you first is the fascinating combination of modern architecture with stunning natural wonders. The south of the city is overthrown by the glorious Olso Fjord scenery, and then the east and west are covered in rolling hills of forests. During our 2 nights in the city we squeezed in as many of the top attractions as we could including Ekeberg Park (Ekebergparken), the Oslo opera house (Den Norske Opera and Ballett), the Royal Palace, Vigeland Park (Vigelandsparken) and a Fjord sightseeing cruise.
Cross country skiing dates back thousands of years ago in northern Scandinavia where skis were used as transportation across the snowy landscape. Norway’s rich history is closely linked to skiing, and many ‘ski firsts’ happened in Norway, so it’s no wonder that the national landmark is a ski jump.
As our weekend adventure came to close, we saved the best attraction until last. Luckily my friend Andrea is a keen skier so there were no objections when I brought up the idea of visiting the famous Oslo ski jump.
From the city centre you can see the huge structure up on the hill and it is super easy to get to. Catch the number ‘1’ Metro (T-Bane) to Holmenkollen, we got on at the National Theatre and the journey took about 25mins. Once off the metro it is a fairly strenuous uphill walk to the ski jump, just follow the signposts that lead the way up the hill and you’ll see the jump after the 10 minute walk.
You can actually walk around the stadium and about the third of the way up the jump for free, but for the full experience and access to the views and ski museum you need to pay the entrance fee of 120NOK (approx £9.50). At the first floor you can experience the top of the ski jump and view of the 60m-high drop from a skier’s perspective. The Holmenkollen ski jump is the most modern ski jump in the world. The arena has changed considerably over the years but the standing structure was opened in 2010. This new design features world class engineering, permanent wind protection, improved snow making and more.
I can’t describe how big and steep the slope looks from the top, and the photos don’t quite do it enough justice either. I can’t believe people ski off of this!
On the second floor viewing platform there are breathtaking 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. The mixture of scenery is just phenomenal; from the sunshine glistening off the fjord, to the acres of forest, the alpine cottages and the contemporary harbour buildings. The photos can do the talking...
The museum is so much more than just a bunch of old skis on display (which is what I expected!). It opened in 1923 and is the oldest ski museum in the world. You can discover more than 4000 years of ski history here at Homenkollen, from ancient rock carvings through to the latest ski technology.
The ski jump and arena have been rebuilt many times, these are a few models depicting the changes
Collections include the development of skis through the ages, early ski clothing, Norwegian polar exploration artefacts, snowboarding history and modern day snowsports. One of the most interesting objects on display are the first ever skis used by man.
I don’t want to give too much away as I hope you will experience the surprise and joy that I did discovering this marvellous place. Olso is a fantastic and stunning city, and the ski history running through the country’s core will delight any skiers or snowboarders farther.
If you wanted to take a city break in Oslo to the next level, travel in winter and you can explore the ski areas near the city. From Voksenkollen (4 stops on the metro line after Holmenkollen) you can take the ski bus to Oslo Winterpark which has 18 slopes and 11 lifts. You can be from the centre of Oslo to the ski area in about 30 minutes... Is there anything this city doesn’t have?
Find out more about skiing in Norway
Introducing the first of our new Expert Guides series aimed at improving your ski performance so you can enjoy your ski holiday to the max. We have started with a few simple tips to help you out if you are new to skiing or looking for methods to improve your ski experience and time on the slopes. At Iglu Ski, we have a huge amount of knowledge across the team and we wanted to share our ski and snowboard holiday advice to the general skiing public so you can make the most of your time when you are in the mountains.
Our first 5 videos are presented by AJ (Sales Director) who has a plethora of ski knowledge after countless ski holidays in at least 10 countries, working in Whistler as a ski instructor (CSIA level 3) and as a guide in the Portes du Soleil.
We will be creating more videos over the ski season. Take a look at our Expert Guide Playlist on YouTube for the lastest videos. Here are the first videos in the series, which were filmed at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead.
For more information on planning your first ski trip or view more ski adviceVideos filmed and edited by Iglu Ski
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"Just home from Christmas in Val d'Isere... this was the best ski holiday I have ever been on. Val is stunning, the hotel fabulous, staff sensational and skiing out of this world. We booked through Iglu. They were fantastic. Peter had great ski knowledge, offered advice and went the extra mile. " - Pamela (Dec 2015)