Today northweststau, dry on Wednesday, a warm Christmas eve and colder in the long term. Nordweststau, dry and sunny on Wednesday, subtropical weekend, cold and pow on long term.
The avalanche situation is still pretty tense in the Alps. Especially in the western parts of Switzerland (where they got 100-120 cm of snow) since Friday, the avalanche danger is four (on a scale of 5). The avalanche danger is still considerable (a three) in other parts of the Alps. Do not go off-piste without the knowledge, skills and the gear (beacon, shovel, probe). Check out our backcountry checklist and always read the latest avalanche bulletin.
It’s colder again in the Alps since last night. The northern regions of the Alps and the Vorarlberg got around 10-25 cm of freshies. In the Kleinwalsertal, Tannheimertal and Bregenzerwald 25-40 cm. In Les Marécottes, the Jungfrau region, Flumserberg and Adelboden-Lenk they got 30-40 cm. The snowline was around 900-1100 meter and that was pretty necessary. It was pretty warm in the Alps last Saturday and the freezing level was temporarily around 1700-2000 meters. This caused a lot of wet snow avalanches..
Powderalert #9 will continue
The temperature dropped in the northwest of the Alps. And it’s still snowing today. I expect another 10-30 cm till Wednesday morning north of the line Chambéry-Arlberg. The sun will come out this afternoon (starting in the west) and Wednesday will be sunny. First chair alarm for Wednesday! In the southern Alps it’s sunny, there’s a strong northern wind and you’ll have to search for powder.
24th of December, the Alps are suffering from subtropical air
A subtropical Christmas?
Well, that’s maybe a little bit to harsh, but the temperatures will rise on Christmas eve and it’s getting colder after that. A warm front will pass on Thursday, which causes the snow line to drop temporarily to 1400-1700 meters. You’ll find the best (dry) snow above 2000 meters. It’s getting pretty dramatic with the arrival of a warm front that will hit the Alps from the west on Friday and Saturday. The snow line will rise to 1800 meters (or higher) and the freezing level will rise to 2500 meter.
24th of December, freezing level to 3000 meter
Forget about this weekend
It will be really warm in the Alps on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In the morning of the 24th of December the freezing level will go up to 3000 meter. It will only be colder in the inneralpine valleys. It can be up to fifteen degrees (yes, that’s 15) in the valleys that suffer from föhn winds from the south.
Southern föhn valleys in Switzerland
But after that….
Winter will return!
The return of the winter isn’t that strange. It’s still December. The jetstream is turning north and will bring snow to the Alps from the north.
The western jetstream is still shifting a bit. It’s quite certain that it will be temporarily very warm. But it’s also quite certain that the cold and snow will return after this warm period. This scenario reminds me of December 2009. Exactly the same weather patterns and precipitation and wind caused a lot of avalanches during the holidays. But there’s also a positive side on the temporary rise of temperatures. There are a lot of weak layers in the snowcover and there’s a lot of triebschnee. The best scenario would be high temperatures with rain or wet snow at higher altitudes for a short period of time and colder temperatures and snow just after that. The old, weak layers in the snowpack can bond due to the wetsnow and the new snow basicly presses everything together. But you have to realize that this will lead to a very tense avalanche situation for a couple of days! We’ll keep an eye on that the next couple of days.
You still wanna ride powder without stress? You’d better be in the Alps today and Wednesday. Lots of snow into the valleys. You don’t have to go out in the higher alpine and can play in the forest. You don’t have to travel to the Alps this weekend. Wait till Christmas and after for some colder weather and snow.