Western circulation will bring a lot of snow!


Von Henri an 10 März 2021 · 0

Fresh snow in Eastern Austria (feratel.com, windy.com)
Fresh snow in Eastern Austria (feratel.com, windy.com)

The Northern and Western Alps end up in a very snowy situation. After some precipitation moments in the past few days, the real deal is now on its way. One meter of snow may fall on a large scale in the next 7 days. From Sunday in particular, the humid western circulation hits the Alps and the it will start dumping with a snow line that will regularly be below 1000 meters. Back to winter!

Sun-drenched Western Alps today, like here in La Clusaz (laclusaz.com)
Sun-drenched Western Alps today, like here in La Clusaz (laclusaz.com)

Some snow in the Eastern Alps

While the Western and Southern Alps start sunny today, it snows into most of the valleys to the east of Tyrol. I expect around 10 centimeters of fresh snow higher up here, with possibly a little more around the Dachstein massif. In the course of the afternoon it slowly but surely starts to clear up here. Particularly in the somewhat broader valleys, the sun may appear in the coming hours, elsewhere the residual clouds will remain somewhat more persistent. In the rest of the Alps, the day will be pretty sunny, but new clouds appear from the northwest. During the night, some weak precipitation passes over the Alps that can bring 1 to 2 centimeters of snow above 1500 meters.

Short-lived Südföhn phase in the Northern Alps on Thursday (meteocentrale.ch)
Short-lived Südföhn phase in the Northern Alps on Thursday (meteocentrale.ch)

First Südföhn, then snowfall

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Tomorrow the influence of the mighty low-pressure area near Iceland will spread across Europe. It ensures that large parts of Western and Central Europe are placed in a strong western circulation. First of all, due to an increasing pressure gradient (lower on the north side, higher on the south side), the Northern Alps still have to deal with a short Südföhn phase, in which temperatures above 15 degrees will occur in the valleys.

Western circulation will get started (wetter3.de, DWD)
Western circulation will get started (wetter3.de, DWD)

The Südföhn will be gone in the course of Thursday evening by the passage of a cold front. From the French Northern Alps to the Arlberg I expect about 10 to 30 centimeters of fresh snow with a rapidly decreasing snow line that will reach about 1200 meters. Initially, the snow line may still temporarily be around 2000 meters. The snowfall is accompanied by a stormy wind, especially during the cold front, which will increase the avalanche danger considerably.

Snowfall until Saturday morning
Snowfall until Saturday morning

Snow showers

Friday is dominated by some snow showers above 1000 meters, which will occur on both the north and the south side of the Alps. Snowfall in the Southeastern Alps will intensify in the course of Friday. In Slovenia in particular, there can be quite a bit of precipitation, with locally 30 to perhaps 50 centimeters of snow above 1500 meters.

Our snow map finally turns red again
Our snow map finally turns red again

Lots of snow with a stormy wind

Saturday will start quietly and will be fairly mild on the north side due to the Föhn, but later in the day the wind will pick up further and another cold front will pass. I will try to describe the exact quantities as clearly as possible on Friday, but the Northwest Alps in particular will dive deep into winter again with a meter of snow possible until Tuesday. Since the wind will increase sharply in strength, caution is advised.

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