Adieu deep winter

By meteomorris on 27 February 2013 · 0

Via [Powfinder](
Via [Powfinder](

What a winter it has been so far! There’s lots of snow pretty much everywhere. The exceptions are the inneralpine areas in the Aosta and the Engadin that got less snow than normal this season. But it’s party time in the rest of the Alps, the snow cover is really thick between 1000-2000 meters. But things are about to change. As matter of fact, it will change next week.

The snowcover between 1000 and 1600 meter is reaching its highest level at the end of February and will start to become smaller after that. This is caused by:

  • The sun that will be higher on the horizon every day

  • The warmer air that’s coming in and that will expel the colder air

  • Precipitation in the valleys will be more and more rain and less and less snow

Keep the things above in mind when you chose a resort to ride. You’ll be forced to go for the higher alpine areas if you want to ride powder.

This doesn’t mean that winter is over. On the contrary. The snowcovers at different altitudes reach their highest levels at different times:

  • 1000-1600 meters: End of February

  • 1600-2000 meters: Mid March

  • 2000-2700 meters: Mid April

The winter in the higher alpine basicly still has to start! We’ll just have to change from treeruns to couloirs or big faces and later on to the real high alpine. But we’re not quite there yet.

Thomas is losing strength
Thomas is losing strength

The low pressure area Thomas is losing its power and expect for the Piemonte (those lucky bastards get another 10-35 centimeters the next 48 hours) it’s dry and sunny in the Alps. The freezing level is going up to 2000 meters in the west and 1400 meters in the east. It’s colder in the southern Alps (because of the weak eastern current) and the freezing level here is around 1000 to 1300 meters. More than enough to keep the freshies cold and dry on the northern faces and in the trees. The snow on the southern slopes is quite strong though and the snow will get heavier over there.

Snow in the east the last 24 hours

Thomas didn’t leave the Alps through the backdoor. He dropped another 20-40 centimeters in the eastern stau regions of Carinthia, Steiermark and the Salzburgerland. Cold and dry at first, warmer and heavier later. But hey, it’s still really cold and fresh above 1400 meters.

You’ll have to start searching for powder the next couple of days, because of the arrival of a high pressure area and warmer air. Your best change are resorts with lots of north faces and trees, that had quite some snow the last couple of days and don’t have lots of powderstress. Sounds like a mission impossible? Nope. Just check out our selector in the ‘destination’ tab on the and you’ll find some good options. Don’t wait too long though, the warmer air is coming in!

Powder advice, what to do?

  1. Chose on of the four regions that had lots of snow the last couple of days. That are the southern Alps west, southern Alps central, southern Alps east of northern Alps east.

  2. Pick some features in the selector that you want the resort to have, such as trees, secret, etc, and you’ll see some suggestions.

  3. If you don’t know where to go by then, don’t hesitate and ask where to go in the comments. I’m more than happy to help you! If you want freshies, go for the southern Alps west. It's the only region that will pick up snow the next 48 hours and where it will be pretty cold.

Next weekend, quite a dilemma

If want go out and shred some powder this weekend, there are two options. For some nice weather and some hiking for powder, you should go to the southern Alps west, southern Alps central, southern Alps east of northern Alps east). You’re guaranteed to find powder, but you’ll have to go for north faces, trees, resorts that are between 1500 and 2800 meters (and with little powder stress).

The second option is more to the north. It will dump bigtime in the western regions of Norway. Resorts like Oppdal, Sunnmorsalpane and Sogndal will get lots of freshies. You can fly with Norwegian, rent a car and it’s time for a roadtrip! Keep in mind that it will take some more time to travel and that the trees are different that the ones we’re used to in the Alps. Adventure guaranteed!

Lots of snow in [Norway](
Lots of snow in [Norway](

It will be warmer next weekend

You’ll find the ensembles for three regions in the Alps below. The western Alps (France), the Piemonte (southern Alps west, e.g. Italy) and the northern Alps (Austria and Switzerland). What is an ensemble? An ensemble, or plume expectation will give you an idea of the uncertainty in the weather forecasts. Every weather model is calculated over and over again in a much more simplified version. If the results are sensitive to little changed, the expectations will shift a lot. If the different outcomes are quite the same, the weather outcome is stable and therefore more reliable. If the different outcomes in the plume are far apart from each other, the prediction is quite uncertain. The ensembles below confirm what I’m forecasting for days now. Adieu mid-winter!

Ensemble western Alps
Ensemble western Alps

The models agree. It will get warmer and the freezing level will be above 1800 meters from next weekend. You don’t have to expect any significant precipitation. The changes of snow will rise from the middle of next week, but with this southwestern current it basicly means some snow in the French southern Alps and lots of humidity and a high snow line in the French northern Alps.

Ensemble northern Alps
Ensemble northern Alps

The map for the northern Alps is quite comparable to the western Alps. The temperature rise will be later and especially the east will be colder longer. A southwestern current means föhn and no precipitation.

Ensemble Piemonte
Ensemble Piemonte

It will be colder in the Piemonte due to the stau. The drop of temperature on Tuesday is quite interesting. A front from the southwest will come in. It will bring snowfall deep into the valleys. When the intensity of precipitation is getting less and less later, the temperatures will rise over there as well.

What if the value of ensembles?

Ensembles are great to test the consistency of a model. They also help to put the effects of the jetstream in perspective, but are to rough to forecast the weather for a single village. They’re simple just not that accurate enough. In this case, it works out pretty fine, because I’m forecasting the weather for regions for the long term.

It will be warm in the week of 2-9 March. You can notice that immediately in the western and northern Alps. The current is moving to the southwest and that means a chance for snow for the southwestern stau regions (French southern Alps, Piemonte, south of the Monte Rosa). It will probably snow in the Engadin and the inneralpine regions around the Italian/Austrian main alpine ridge. But only if the fronts can reach that far. What will happen after that (after March the 8th) is uncertain. Some models predict a northwest stau, but other models are predicting ‘The Return Of The High Pressure Areas’. And yes, that sounds like a bad movie.

Conclusions for the week of March 2nd-9th

You’re highest chances for powder this weekend will be in the four regions mentioned above. You’ll have to search for powder though. It might snow in the Piemonte and French southern Alps on Tuesday(night). The snowline will drop temporarily, but will rise again later (to 1500-1800 meters). There will be a föhn in the northern Alps and French northern Alps and it will be dry, maybe some precipitation at the end of the week, especially in the main alpine ridge.

Allright, that was a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments on!

Stay stoked



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