Powder in Fernie, BC, Canada
I'm talking about an upcoming PowderAlert #6 for next week for days now. The current will turn southwest from the 17th, the high pressure area will (temporarily?) loose some power and we can het ready for….PowderAlert #6. Somewhere between the 19th and 20th of December the first precipitation is expected in the Alps and we can look back at a period of at least eight days without snow. But there are some regions in the Alps that didn't see any freshies for four (yes, that's FOUR) weeks.
But hey, you might remember winter 11/12. The autumn was extremely dry and we had to wait till December 5th for the first snwo. It snowed for weeks and weeks (seven in total) after that. Conclusion: nothing is as unpredictable as nature. And that's the answer to questions such as ‘will Gerlos of the Montafon get any freshies on Christmas Day?' Time will tell, right now, it's too early to give an answer.
It is possible though to forecast the long term weather (7-10 days) based on the jetstream. But keep in mind, this is pretty global and not specific. You still have to wait, but if you want dry powder right now, there's only one place to be and that's Maple Leaf country. And to be more precise: the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The next five days they're expecting around 50-70 centimeters of freshies and that snow will fall on a base layer of around two meters (which is around 1,5 times bigger than the long-term average). Note on the side: the temperature will rise a bit and the snowline will be around a 1000 meters. But the map below says it all.
More to the south (the United States) it will be pretty much dry. Same story for the Alps. If we take a closer look on the precipitation maps for the next five days, you basicly see nothing for the Alps and the Pyrenees. Hey, you don't even have to take a closer look to see that. You'll have to go to the western parts of Norway for snow (and rain), but the heavy winds and the high temperatures aren't really helpful. Nope, you'll have to travel to the southeast of Europe for some freshies. It's cold and it's snowing heavily. You can ride powder in downtown Istanbul and Jeruzalem and even the Egyptian capital of Cairo got snow for the first time in around 112 years.
But change is on its way. [Obama voice on] The biggest problem at the moment is the location of the jetstream [Obame voice off]. The Alps are south of this highway of depressions. As a result, the Alps have to deal with dry and pretty warm air. The temperature drops during the nights, but will rise again during the day and it's just too warm, especially on slopes with a southern exposure. Add to that that the latest snowfall was combined with a pretty heavy winds and as a result you really have to search for powder in the Alps, where the snowcover gets thinner everyday. It's great to work on your technical skills, safety skills or other skills we don't want to know about. But it's pretty impossible to find deep powder.
But if I could choose between a day in the mountains or a day at home recovering from my injury… Anyway, the jetstream. It's changing directions. As a result, the western- and southern Alps might have a chance for freshies at first.
Alert: 19th-21st of December
A front with a west-south-west direction if hitting the western Alps between the 19th and 21st of December. In a scenario like this, details are pretty important. Right now it looks like it's going to snow in the French Alps and there's a small chance that it will now in the southern Piemonte. The front will move east after that. This will result in freshies for the west-north-west stau regions in the northern Alps. If you have to name one region that might get a lot of snow, the Ecrins could be it, but please keep in mind that there isn't much of a base there. So you'll have to wait with choosing where to go. After the front has passed, the Alps will suffer warmer air (again) between the 21st and the 23rd of December.
Only after December the 23rd there might be a chance that the Alps will be in colder air for a longer period of time. If you want to score some powder before the Christmas holidays start, this complex PowderAlert will be the one to watch. More details on Sunday!