PA #13: Lots of fresh snow in the northern Alps. HIGH avalanche danger!


By meteomorris on 9 March 2017 · 3

It is mild in the Alps and it's raining and snowing heavily on the north side of the Alps. You can expect a lot of fresh snow to come down between Engelberg in the west and Tauplitz in the east in the next 36 hours. The snowline will be (too) high at first, but will drop deeper into the valleys in the night to Friday. Cold snow will fall on top of warmer snow (or even on wet snow). We'll have to see what this mixture will bring us, but most of the time cold snow on top of warm snow turns out to be great for skiing and snowboarding. BUT... Because of the large amounts of fresh snow above the tree line the avalanche danger is locally HIGH (4 on a scale of 5). My advice would be to enjoy the fresh snow on the slopes. You need to have a lot of experience to make the right decisions. So please, stay on the slopes the next couple of days. In this forecast:

  • A lot of fresh snow and rain in the northern Alps
  • Very mild today, colder on Friday
  • Friday and Saturday are powder days
  • Off-piste very dangerous at the moment, even with basic knowledge
  • Long-term: unstable weather with alternating sun and precipitation

A lot of fresh snow and rain in the northern Alps

It's raining in lots of valleys in the northern Alps right now, especially between Engelberg in the west and Tauplitz in the east. It's snowing above 1400-1700 meters and dry snow only falls above 1900-2100 meters. And a lot of snow came down already, locally 30-60 cm above 2000 meters and it will keep on snowing the next couple of hours.

Expected snowfall
Expected snowfall

Very mild today, colder on Friday

Check out one of our snow maps above. I assume that more snow will come down than what is visible on our snow maps. Fortunately, the snow line will drop the next couple of hours on the north side of the Alps and you can expect another 10-40 cm of fresh snow. A cold front is approaching the Alps at the moment and is expected on the north side of the Alps around midnight. The temperature will drop rapidly. It is around zero degrees at 2000 meters right now, but it will be somewhere between -5 and -7 degrees at 2000 meters this night. The snow line will drop deep into the valleys, but the damage on the lower parts of the mountain is already done. The snow disappeared below 900-1200 meters, so forget about riding there, but the snow will be pretty good between 1500 and 2000 meters.

Cold front
Cold front

The temperature will drop on Friday and you can ride some powder. The sun will come out and the combination of sunshine and lots of fresh snow results in , there is a powder day again. The sun comes through and the combination of sun and fresh snow does some weird things with our brain (resulting in powder panic). Please ride safe and make the right decision. Below some shots from the Alps from today.

Clearing the roof in Montafon
Clearing the roof in Montafon

Klosters
Klosters

Davos
Davos

Meanwhile, the sun is shining in the west and south of the Alps and the weather over there remains mild.

Friday and Saturday are powder days

The sun will come out from the west on Friday, but it will keep on snowing for a while east of Innsbruck. Saturday will be a day with bluebird conditions pretty much everywhere in the northern Alps above 1500 to 2000 meters. BUT...

Off-piste very dangerous at the moment, even with basic knowledge

There is a lot of snow coming down in the northern Alps. The combination of wind, high temperatures and an old snowpack which had to suffer a Föhn storm for at least a week results in a critical situation in the northern Alps. The avalanche danger has gone up to HIGH (that's 4 on a scale of 5) in lots of resorts. That means: unfavorable conditions, you need to have a lot of experience to make the right decisions. So if don't have a lot of experience, you'd better stay on the marked slopes. And this is not the time to overestimate yourself. It's not only in the northern Alps where the avalanche situation is critical. You really have to pay attention in the rest of the Alps as well. The temperature was rising after last week's snowfall and the snowpack has to deal with some changes. We often see a rise in avalanche activities when the temperature rises.

Knowledge is key

It's been a complete disaster in the Alps last week, where avalanches claimed the lives of 11 skiers and snowboarders. Lots of people are still riding alone or without the right gear (avalanche beacon, shovel, probe). These are indications that those riders are short of knowledge. And knowledge is key. With applying the right knowlegde you can reduce the risk to the level of driving a car for one hour. If you don't have the right knowledge, than you're basically playing a game of Russian Roulette.

Discount on Mountain Academy

Want access to the most comprehensive online backcountry snow safety courses for skiers and snowboarders? Use code "ALTENMARKT1617", valid until the end of March, to get access for only 9€ (Reg: 29€). Go to Mountain Academy and start now!

Long-term: unstable weather with alternating sun and precipitation

Saturday will be sunny, but the weather will change again on Sunday. The temperature will rise, the temperature will drop, the sun will come out, some snowfall and some rain. More about that tomorrow. Enjoy the powder on the north side of the Alps, but ride with care!

Stay stoked. Morris

Comments


  • jamesjung
    jamesjung op 9 March 2017 · 16:14
    Thanks, Morris! Always appreciate the insights. How is the Arlberg doing? I'm seeing rain in town on the webcams but looks decent up high? Possibility for a nice surprise tomorrow morning? I am heading over there next week so hoping for good conditions!
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 9 March 2017 · 20:18
    @jamesjung

    snow levels are dropping. Looking really good at the moment

    May the powder be with you.
  • jamesjung
    jamesjung op 9 March 2017 · 21:15
    @jamesjung

    snow levels are dropping. Looking really good at the moment

    meteomorris op 9 Mar 2017 20:18


    Those are encouraging signs! Thanks for sharing, Morris! Here's hoping for a good week next week.

Reply

You need to be logged in to post a comment in this topic. Login or create an account.

Upgrade to wepowder Pro

  • Extended 14 day forecast
  • Slope angle and exposition terrain layers
  • Inspirational freeride routes
wePowder Pro