Some mountain guides say that winter only starts after mid February. But if you're in the Alps right now you'll sometimes have to think twice if it's winter or not. The winter hasn't been good so far and there's a poor base in a lot of regions in the Alps, especially on south facing slopes. Normally, the storm that hits the Alps today guarantees deep powder between the trees in this part of the season. But because of the poor conditions it isn't a no-brainer. If you're willing to search a bit you can definitely ride some powder the next couple of days. And if you're not willing to search, but are willing to wait, than you might be riding deep powder this weekend. In this forecast:
- Locally 50-70 cm of fresh snow
- Tricky conditions
- PowderAdvice for Tuesday and Wednesday
- Shifting temperatures
- Snowfall in the southern Alps this weekend!
Locally 50-70 cm of fresh snow
Finally! It started to snow again last night. The clouds hit the French southern Alps, south of the Gotthard and Piz Bernina, but also around the Mont Blanc and simply were forced to drop their flakes.
And it will continue to snow for a while. Today will be a snowy day with up to 50-70 cm of snow until Wednesday. You can expect this scenario:
- It will keep on snowing in the south and the west of the Alps on Tuesday morning. It will snow as well in Switzerland and Vorarlberg.
- A second front will come in during Tuesday afternoon and this front will bring even more snow to regions mentioned above.
- It will stop snowing in the south in the night to Wednesday, but thanks to the third front in just 36 hours it will keep on snowing in the northwest of the Alps (that's above the line Chambery - Switzerland - Arlberg).
And that results in the image below. That's not bad right?
Almost all the regions in the Alps get some fresh snow today. The snow line is pretty tricky on Tuesday. It shifts between 1000 and 1500 meters on the south side of the main alpine ridge, in the west of the Alps it fluctuates between 1200 and 1700 meters and north of the main alpine ridge it's somewhere between 1000 and 1500 meters. Fortunately, the snow line will drop in the night to Wednesday, but you can only expect dry snow to come down above 1400-1800 meters on Tuesday. But at least there is some snow falling down. Big exceptions are the regions of Styria and Salzburgerland, where they have to wait till tonight for some significant snowfall. Until then, the peaks are getting hammered by a Föhn from the south.
But a lot of snowfall, three fronts, shifting wind directions and a wind that's from time to time really heavy won't make it a no-brainer to ride some powder. On top of that, the snow cover is thin, there's often no base between the trees and there are some crappy layers deeper in the snow cover. The snowpack in the northern Alps (thanks to wind coming from the south on Tuesday) and in the southern Alps (thanks to the wind coming from the north on Wednesday) will be influenced by the wind. It will result in some tricky conditions. Lifts will be closed because of the heavy wind as well. You'll have to search for powder that you can actually ride. Take it easy!
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PowderAdvice for Tuesday and Wednesday
With some searching you can definitely ride powder on Wednesday. There are a few places where the base is okay for the time of year and where a lot of snow comes down. I'm talking about the regions and resorts below.
- The Hautes Alpes (there's a good base in the trees in Serre Chevalier, Risoul, Puy Saint Vincent and Pelvoux)
- Aosta (there's a good base between the trees in La Thuile and Courmayeur. Wind will be an issue on Wednesday morning)
- The north of Lombardia and the southwest of the Engadin
- The north of Vorarlberg (especially from Wednesday)
- Vaude and the Berner Oberland (especially from Wednesday)
- Western Lower Wallis (especially around Trient from Wednesday)
- The ski areas around Chamonix (especially from Wednesday)
- The pearl of the Alps (La Grave)
- The 'ski factories' in the Savoie (Paradiski)
You can ride powder in the rest of the Alps as well from Wednesday. There will be less snow, there won't be a decent base and you'll have to ride powder on the slopes at first, but when the visibility improves later this week you might start looking for powder higher up the mountain.
Wednesday will start like a real winter day. The current comes from the northwest, there are some heavy winds on the south side of the Alps, there's still some snow coming down in the northwest, it's cold and it feels like winter. But the temperature will rise again later that day. Warm air is coming in, the wind from the northwest will drop and the freezing level will end up at 2000 meters by the end of the day. A new cold front will come in on Thursday morning and this front will bring some snow to the northern Alps. Unfortunately, the temperature will rise again pretty soon.
Snowfall in the southern Alps this weekend!
The maps indicate snowfall for the southern Alps from Friday. I'm not sure where the snow line will be and what the consequences for the rest of the Alps will be. But hey, let's start with PowderAlert #10. Powder galore! (but ride with care).
Stay stoked. Morris