Storm Gabriele turned into storm Heike, with a more southern approach. Heike is stirring it up in the Mediterranean and we will take advantage of Heike for the rest of the winter. Because Heike isn't quite small. With a core pressure of 985 hPA, she turned into a storm of epic proportions. This is becoming a huge Genua-layer. The avalanche scale indicated BIG on Tuesday and the French southern Alps reported to 100 cm of snow in 24 hours time. And it just keeps on coming.
There was between 40-100 cm of new snow in parts of the southern Alps (base of the Ecrins, the northern parts of Ticino), but there was a big föhn in Austria. It just didn't snow at all in Austria (except for the southern region of Kärnten) and they so need it. The Salzburgerland and Steiermark region are still as green as an alpine meadow can be. And the differences between the northern and the southern Alps will grow even bigger. Heike is now settled in the Po-plains and that means the southern Alps will get hammered! And the hammering will start this afternoon.
It snowed heavily in the Ecrins and the Gotthard region on Tuesday, with snow coming from the southwest. On Wednesday, the snow will come from the southeast and this means the Mont Viso, Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa are next, followed by the Piz Bernina and the Dolomites. Expect ANOTHER 50-100 cm in most of this regions. The southern Alps just might get about 150 cm of freshies on an altitude of 2000 meters. Check out the warnings of Meteo Suisse below.
It shows clearly where we can expect the most snow. Around the Simplon and the northwest of Ticino. The map below will give you an idea of what is still to come.
What's really interesting about this map is that the dump in the Dolomites, Ost-Tirol and Kärnten is still to come. Expect a lot of snow in those regions as well on Wednesday afternoon, but with a snow level that will be quite high at first.
From south to north
IDuring Wednesday the southern föhn will fall away. Heike will move over to the northeast, and the current will move from the southeast to the northeast and will become north later on. The precipitation will reach the northern parts of the Alps on Wednesday evening. It will start in the Haute Savoie and will expand into the western parts of Switzerland. The regions in the eastern part of Switzerland and the Vorarlberg will get some snow during the night from Wednesday to Thursday. Even the Austrian regions of Salzburg and Steiermark will get snow on Thursday and Friday. We can tell the winners and losers of this storm just then.
The winners are the southern Alps. Without a doubt. The French Hautes Alps and the southern regions got a great base. Same thing for the Italian region of the Piemonte, the Simplon, Monte Rosa, Ticino, the southern parts of the Aosta, Lombardia, Süd-Tirol and the Dolomites. The base of 100-200 cm at an altitude of 2200 meters will make the winter of 12/13 an instant success. Because that base isn't going anywhere.
The lucky ones
The western parts of the Isère and the Savoie benefited from the cold sector. Lots of precipitation combined with cold air brought around 70 cm of freshies. We'll probably conclude that large parts of the main alpine ridge in Switzerland and Austria benefited as well, for example the southern parts of Wallis, the southwest of the Engadin, and the glaciers in Tirol, even though the föhn was strong here. Even Vorarlberg and parts of the Swiss and Austrian Alps got about 25-50 centimeter.
Where to go?
Hold your horses. The best resorts will open this weekend. For now, there are only a couple of options. Livigno didn't get snow on the lower mountain and Sulden just has no trees. There will fall some snow this afternoon and the sun will come out on Thursday. The Engadin might be an option as well, even though the wind was really strong here and it wasn't that cold!
My bet would still be on the areas with lots of trees for this weekend. Resorts like Sestrière, Sauze d'Oulx and nearby Montgenèvre are all open. There are some rumors that more areas will open, but nothing is confirmed yet. Zermatt and Bosco Gurin and San Domenico are other options. Lots and lots of snow there as well. Check out the images of Bosco Gurin this morning! A new advice will follow on Friday morning.
There is a considerable layer of hoar in large parts of the southern Alps. There wasn't a base in other parts. The wind came from all directions, causing snowdrifts in every direction. This snow might be snowed in and can therefore not be seen anymore. Ride safe the next couple of days. Choose for resorts with larch trees (loads to be found in the southern Alps) and stay below the treeline as much as possible. The avalanche danger is even bigger above the treeline. Most of the resorts will open on Saturday. This gives the snowpack some time to settle
As most of the areas will open on Saturday, this will mean that most of the lines that are tracked dump after dump will now be tracked for the first time. This means that there is a bigger chance that there are some weak layers in the snowpack and that these lines are even more dangerous than they are during mid-winter. Be warned and ride safe!