Christmas Day was a day with huge differences in the Alps. The northern Alps had to deal with a big Föhn storm with wind speeds up to 140 km/h and temperatures above zero degrees, but the southern Alps got treated with lots and lots and lots of snow. Especially the Italian Piemonte and the Swiss kanton of Ticino got hammered. And there is more on its way.
The image below is a screenshot of a webcam from yesterday evening. Do you know where that webcam is situated?
It's a webcam just south of the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland. You'd normally think of palmtrees and Italian lakes which are just a short drive away. The road on the webcam is the main highway close to the village of Airolo (900 meters). It's completely white. Please keep in mind that It was twelve degrees in Innsbruck and 14 degrees in Salzburg on the same time. This webcam image is from December the 25th on 9.00 PM.
They hope to open the lifts in Airolo today, but I wonder if they'll make it. The image is below is from yesterday afternoon and they had another 50 centimeters of freshies last night.
A result of that immense snowfall the last 36 hours is that the avalanche danger rose up to HIGH in almost the complete western and southern Alps. It's possible that roads will be closed, because they're threatened by avalanched. We're warning for the high avalanche danger for a week now and we're doing it again.
WARNING: The snowcover in the complete Alps is really unstable. The problem is caused by the base layer that's there since the autumn. A lot of avalanches came down after the most recent snowfall and this will probably the case with the next snowfall. If you're heading out, be alert. Check your daily avalanche bulletin, make sure you have the right gear and that you have the right knowledge. Not sure about your skills or knowledge? Don't go into the backcountry or hire a qualified mountain guide. Or just wait for the conditions to improve. It's a long season.
Current snowfall (till Boxing Day 8.00 AM)
The following amounts of snow came down since Christmas eveFranse zuidalpen: 20-90 cm
The snowline was around 1200 meters, and the snow was wet till 1800 meters. The snowline dropped to 600-1000 meters in the night from Wednesday to Thursday and it started snowing in the complete Alps. It’s snowing pretty heavy in the Haute Savoie, Switzerland, the western regions of Austria (such as Tirol and Vorarlberg), but it’s also snowing in the southern Alps. The can get another 30-70 centimeters. The eastern parts of the northern Alps (such as Salzburgerland and Steiermark) will get the least snow and it will get colder in those regions later on. When storm Dirk will loose its grip on the Alps on Friday, we can conclude that the conditions improved a lot, except in the Salzburgerland and Steiermark. But give the snowcover some time to settle. Choose resorts with lots of trees and don’t ride above the treeline. It’s like playing Russian roulette with avalanches in the barrel of the gun.
Short term: PowderAlert #8
The sun will come out on Friday in the complete Alps, but a new storm is waiting to come in. Goodbye Dirk, and hello Erich!
Erich is a more mild version of Dirk, but Dirk was a really heavy storm. Erich will repeat what Dirk has caused in the Alps, but only in a milder way. You can see that on this Föhn chart.
The southern Föhn will drop on Thursday and it will snow in the complete Alps. The sun will come out on Friday, but Erich is on its way. The story continues with snow in the southern Alps and Föhn in the northern. It will snow in the sourthern Alps on Saturday and Sunday, the sun will come out on Monday. PowderAlert #8 will be on from Saturday and the snowmap below says it all. Snowlevels will be around 1500 meters and drop towards 900 meters.
Expected snowfalls for saturday
Can we expect the ninth PowderAlert in 2013? It looks like PowderAlert #9 will start right after New Years Eve. More details about that on Friday. First Dirk, than Erich and let’s enjoy improved snow conditions in the complete Alps. Well, except the lower regions in Tirol, Salzburg and Steiermark. They could use a good northern Stau.
Stay stoked and ride safe