PA#15: SOUTHERN STAU!


Von meteomorris an 5 März 2019 · 7

More snow is in the forecast after two little powder days for the northwest. This time the snow will come down in the southern Alps, or more specific in the Simplon-Gotthard-Ticino-Engadine region. Welcome storm Cornelius! We've had to wait for you for a long time, but you are finally here. The weather models are still debating about the amount of snow that you are going to bring, but I am already very happy when you bring 30-50 cm of fresh snow. I am even happier if you are actually the firestarter as you present yourself on the weather maps, because it looks like you have not only invited yourself but your storm friends as well to provide our Alps with fresh snow. Let's hope this will be happening!

Storm Cornelius
Storm Cornelius

Small powder day today (Tuesday)

As announced, today is a powder day in the areas on the border of France and Switzerland. Just north of Mont Blanc, about 25-40 cm of fresh snow has fallen. Enough for a good powder day before the southern Stau starts.

Les Marécottes
Les Marécottes

About 5-20 cm came down in the rest of the northwest of the Alps. In combination with the snow that fell on Friday, there is definitely a line to score today. There was plenty to find with a good hike yesterday and with the few centimeters that came down last night, it just got better. Some snow came down around the Arlberg and the sun is shining over there today.

Again, it's not epic, but you'll have to appreciate those days as well. March has a nice start and let you forget the dryspell of the past two weeks fast, especially because the coming days will only get better.

Snowfall last three days
Snowfall last three days

Peak season comes to an end

The first good news is that the peak season is coming to an end. This makes the options for scoring powder a lot bigger. Many school holidays in Europe are coming to an end this weekend, and it won't be that busy in the Alps anymore. We will see less and less lift lines as you can see below in the coming weeks. Of course, it is always busier in the usual suspects.

Chamonix this morning
Chamonix this morning

It will be less crowded after coming weekend, which will get the pressure from the facilities (accommodation, lifts, etc). You really do not have to book weeks in advance anymore. Just before departure is in time. It will also become more quiet at the lifts and certainly in the backcountry. Of course it is still busy during the weekends, but the peak is really behind us.

TIP: read 'Peak seadon: tips to ride powder'

Lots of snow in the forecast

The jet stream has found its way back to the Alps and storm Cornelius is the first storm to visit the Alps. According to the bigger weather models, at least 3 storms with significant snowfall pass through the Alps during the next 10 days.

Snow forecast next 10 days
Snow forecast next 10 days

You'll always have to be careful with a forecast for 10 days for a jetstream that's on fire. Small changes can have significant consequences for the storm paths. The quantities and especially the places where the most snow falls will certainly change during the coming calculations. But the good news is that the major weather models agree for the next 10 days that 3 storms pass through the Alps. We might expect 3 (yes, three!) PowderAlerts for the coming period.

The ingredients are all there, let's start cooking!

Peak season is behind us, there is a good base pretty much everywhere and there is a lot of snow in the forecast. It's the base for one or more great powder trips the coming days. The fourth ingredient is flexibility. By that I mean: make sure you can actually go and be flexible with your accommodation. Don't book your accommodation too early.

TIP: read 'How to plan your powder trip: 10 tips'.

Just wait with booking your acco. A powder trip where you decide to go from day to day often result in the most beautiful adventures. And often the deepest powder as well. Nothing is more annoying than being in the wrong place when you're on a powder chase. If there's a Stau on one side of the main alpine ridge, there's a Föhn on the other side. And talking about Stau and Föhn... PowderAlert #15 will bring a huge southern Stau and southern Föhn!

PA#15: southern Stau and southern Föhn!

Check out the picture above for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. A strong southern current ensures the supply of mild and humid air from the south. This pushes masses with clouds and moisture to the southern side of the Alps on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. First of all, we see snow in the areas to the south and east of the Ecrins. The snow line is still a thing here. If the wind stays southeast for a long time, we will see the lowest snow line in the western Piedmont and it will be higher in the French Hautes Alpes. But if it becomes more southwest then the snow line will be lower in the Hautes Alpes.

I expect the snow line to be lower at first in the Piedmont (around 1100-1400 meters) and higher in the Hautes Alpes (1700-2000 meters) and that it will be somwhere around 1300-1500 meters in the night to Thursday. It is possible that just south of the Ecrins the Stau will be so strong that the orographic cooling will provide a lower snow line in Pelvoux and Puy St. Vincent. I hope to know more about it tomorrow.

The snowfall spreads to the north of the Piedmont, the Simplon area, the north of Ticino and the south side of the Gotthard to the southern Engadine during Wednesday. The snow line is around 1000-1200 meters near the main alpine ridge, in the pre-Alps around 1400 meters. Because of the enormous Stau and orographic cooling, I expect the most snow here between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon. The snow line will start to rise a little in the course of Thursday, because the southern current will kinda stop and the cooling down due to extreme Stau will then disappear. There will be a cold front that brings snow to the northwest of the Alps in the course of the Thursday afternoon.

Thus it looks like this up to and including Friday:

  • Wednesday: fast rising southern Föhn and very mild in the northern Alps. Emerging snowfall south of the French Ecrins (Hautes Alpes), the western and northern Piemonte and north of Ticino including that beautiful resort in Uri right above the Gotthard tunnel.
  • Thursday: continuing snowfall in the northern Piedmont, the north of Ticino and the south of Graubünden. There is a cold front coming in from the west that brings snow to the northwest of the Alps later in the day.
  • Friday: snow in the northwest of the Alps and the sun will come out from the west.

PA#15: where to go?

It's ON on Thursday afternoon and Friday in:

  • The northern Piemonte
  • But especially in the north of Ticino and that resort in Uri
  • Also the north of the (Hautes Alpes) is just enough for some powder turns

Next weekend?

The weather will be a bit milder after Friday. Saturday starts cold in the morning, but on the approach of a warm front it gets warmer. By night (timing may change) there is a cold front planned from the northwest with snow for the northwest of the Alps.

Because the timing and storm path can change a bit, this is it for today and I'll go deeper into the weekend tomorrow. Your powder chase starts on Thursday and Friday in the Gotthard. I'll tell you more about this weekend on Wednesday.

And after the weekend?

There are storms in the forecast with snow from the southwest and northwest next week. Wax up, get your storm gear ready and get ready for a great trip. Winter is far from over.

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Stay stoked, Morris

Kommentare


  • ecsjones
    ecsjones op 5 März 2019 · 13:23
    tricky times with all this snow coming...needing trees for visibility and im not so sure the trees have enough snow at least in the next few days with the warm few weeks...
  • meteomorris
    Expert
    meteomorris op 5 März 2019 · 14:29
    @escjones treeruns on north faces do still have a good snow cover
    May the powder be with you.
  • albebrega
    Beginner
    albebrega op 5 März 2019 · 15:15
    thanks Morris!! let's dance yeeeewwww
  • NicZH
    NicZH op 5 März 2019 · 18:44
    Miam miam. Why not a good trip around Bivio... So the nice resort in Uri...we keep the name secret going forward 😉 ???
  • johannfulks
    johannfulks op 5 März 2019 · 21:07
    The resort in Uri is, most likely, Andermatt. Where else?!
  • robbiebrady
    robbiebrady op 6 März 2019 · 11:25
    Morzine-Avoriaz from Sunday onwards. Am I going to get rained on?!
    Thanks!!
  • meteomorris
    Expert
    meteomorris op 6 März 2019 · 16:48
    @robbiebrady, depends on where you're based.
    But there is a lot of snow in the forecast. Sometimes rain on the lower mountain.
    May the powder be with you.

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