Since you asked about snow:
The Alps are compact geographically and the entire range would fit inside Colorado. So generalizations about "the West" have much more climate variation than within the Alps. I've analyzed this in minute detail on my website http://bestsnow.net
. In most regions there are small favored microclimates that get the most snow.
For the short version I'll defer to the avalanche researchers who divide the West into coastal, intermountain and continental regions. SoCalSki has much of it right.Coastal mountains
get typically ~350 inches (top microclimate Mt. Baker 650) of 10-13% water content snow. Best for building early season base and keeping steepest slopes covered. Downsides are occasional rain, more frequent melt/freeze cycles (which do create a more stable snowpack) and more resistant powder skiing, especially without fat skis.Continental mountains
get ~250 inches (top microclimates Buffalo, Kebler, Wolf Creek passes 400+) of 6-7% water content snow. Best for powder skiing, maintaining packed powder surfaces well into spring, rain is essentially nonexistent. Downsides are very gradual coverage of steep/rocky terrain and unstable backcountry snowpack.Intermountain
areas fall in between: ~300 inches (top microclimates Alta and some of British Columbia Selkirks 500+) of 8-9% water content snow, with subjective factors also being between the extremes. I personally believe that the favored microclimates here have the best of both worlds: more than adequate coverage, good powder skiing and rare rain incidence.
So how do the East and the Alps compare?Eastern areas
average ~150 inches (top microclimates Jay and Mt. Washington 300+). Temperature is wildly variable, resulting in occasional very low water content powder but also excessive rain, even more than in the West Coast areas that get twice as much snow.In the Alps
I have long term data only from Verbier, which averages 223 inches at 7,200 feet elevation. I'm pretty convinced by both weather and observation that snow conditions from about 6,000 ft. and up in the Alps are closer to the West than the East of North America, primarily due to lack of rain and good snow preservation. The snowpack is likely similar to the Continental West due to slightly less quantity but slightly higher water content.
I don't have hard info for the higher snow microclimates of the Alps (anyone here who has it please send it to me!), by reputation places like the Arlberg, Andermatt and Val d'Isere. I'm guessing these places get around 350 at higher elevation.