First still dry and sunny, a snowy Christmas present is still uncertain


Von Henri an 17 Dezember 2021 · 0

Inversion weather in Anzère (roundshot.com)
Inversion weather in Anzère (roundshot.com)

The Alps have been experiencing dry and sunny weather conditions for the entire week. Also in the coming days, not much will change in this weather pattern, although part of Austria will get some dusting of snow. At least until the middle of next week, large parts of the Alps will remain dry, but what will happen around Christmas is still very uncertain. It does seem that the Alps will enter a more changeable phase.

Still high pressure, so the same weather pattern over the weekend (wetter3.de, DWD)
Still high pressure, so the same weather pattern over the weekend (wetter3.de, DWD)

Sunny weekend

I can be brief about the weather during the weekend: dry and sunny. The strong influence of the high-pressure area persists. Powder will only be found higher up on the shadowy slopes, but note that many of these slopes also still have to deal with a vicious old snow layer.

Below, you can see a nice timelapse of a typical inversion layer in the Inntal, which can often arise as a result of a dominant high-pressure area over the Alps. You can clearly see that such a cloud layer is very dynamic. Prolonged high-pressure situations can also cause (strong) air pollution in valleys because the inversion layer works like a lid. There is virtually no exchange between the air types.

Snowfall for Austria on Monday
Snowfall for Austria on Monday

Some snowfall for Austria

On the six-day forecast, we still see as expected hardly any precipitation for the Alps, only for the east of Austria there is some. This snowfall is caused, as I told you in the previous weather reports, by the shifting of the high-pressure area, which clears the way for a northern flow.

On the eastern flank of the high-pressure area, cold air is flowing towards Austria (wetter3.de, DWD)
On the eastern flank of the high-pressure area, cold air is flowing towards Austria (wetter3.de, DWD)

On Monday, with this northerly wind, some snow will fall and the rest of the north side will temporarily have to deal with more clouds. Areas like Hochkar and Loser-Altaussee might get about 10 to 15 centimetres, but it won't be much more than that. The inner alpine areas west of Tyrol will most likely remain sunny. However, it will also get noticeably colder here. In the Western Alps, the mild air can hold out a bit longer and they won't notice anything of this snowfall. It will remain sunny here. In the Southern Alps, temperatures will rise, especially on Sunday and Monday, due to an increasing Nordföhn.

Nordföhn in the Southern Alps (meteocentrale.ch)
Nordföhn in the Southern Alps (meteocentrale.ch)

Uncertainty!

Immediately after this snowfall, the high-pressure influence will increase again and it will remain calm and mainly sunny. During the middle of the week, a warm front may follow in the Northern Alps, but for the time being it seems that this front will only graze the Northern Alps and will therefore not bring much precipitation. Only in the northernmost areas could it snow and rain a little.

The weather models have been indicating for some time that some exciting things could happen around Christmas, but the uncertainty was (and still is!) high. It's simply too early. With the new model calculations, it looks like a strong depression from the west could shake things up again and possibly bring a lot of snow to the western and/or southern Alps. This could also mean that the Northern Alps will get a big chance of föhn. I have to add that the model calculations still differ so much that I'd rather wait and see what happens in the next few days. All in all, it looks like we might be dealing with a more zonal flow over Christmas.


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