PowderAlert #9


By meteomorris on 2 January 2014 · 0

PA#9
PA#9

Happy PowPowYear! Yesterday best wishes for 2014, today more happiness is coming your way. 2013 ended with: A short, but powerful PowderAlert. It's too early for the details, but PowderAlert #9 will happen in three phases. Föhn in the northern Alps and an incoming front from the southwest, a hit-and-run on the western and southern Alps and a northern ‘kickback'?

More details today in this forecast, and hey, it's 2014, so why not add a long-term forecast as well? But first things first: PowderAlert #9. The first snow of PowderAlert #9 coming in from the west is falling today. A lot of fronts are on their way to the Alps. These fronts will bring snow from the west with a temporary drop of the temperature.

Line of fronts coming in from the westsouthwest

I'm expecting snow in the Stau regions of the Ecrins, the Mont-Blanc and the Ortler today. Not a lot though, around 2-10 centimeters. The west of the French southern Alps, the west of Wallis, the Mont Blanc and the Italian region of Lombardia can expect up to 20 centimeters. The snowline will be around 1100-1400 meters in the western Alps and around 600 meters in the southern Alps. The Swiss northern Alps will get 2-10 centimeters above 1400 meters. And Austria? Only some flakes and sunny most of the time.

Snow from the west
Snow from the west

The Alps have to deal with warmer air on Friday. A warm front will bring some precipitation from the west. The snowline will drop to 1800 meters in the western Alps. The southern and northern Alps will be (as good as) dry and the temperatures are (too) high.

PowderAlert #9

Saturday will start with PowderAlert #9. But…it's not an easy PowderAlert. It's pretty warm and the air is too warm just before and during the snowfall. The freezing level might even be way above 2000 meters on Friday and Monday. That's not a perfect situation.

  1. Föhn in the northern Alps and an incoming front from the southwest

The front will come in on Saturday from the southwest. It's already cloudy with snow and rain in the western and southern Alps. It's still sunny, warm and windy in the northern Alps (especially Austria and the east of Switzerland). The wind is pretty heavy (up to 80 km/h). It's already snowing in the French southern Alps and the other regions in the southern Alps. The temperatures are mild with a snowline just below 2000 meters at the start of the snowfall, but it will drop to 1500 meters (and at some places even 1200 meters) later on.

  1. A frontal attack on the western and southern Alps

The snowfall will be pretty intense in the western and southern Alps on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. The snowline will be around 1200 meters (locally even a 1000 meter) at the end of the night. Cold air will spread around the Alps. The last snow in the south will fall on Sunday. The sun will come out in the other regions of the Alps. Sunday will be a little bit cooler (finally) and sunny. You can expect 30-60 centimeters (locally even 70 centimeters in the southwestern Stau regions of the Ecrins and the Ortler). The other regions in the (French) southern Alps can expect 20-50 centimeter. It will be (mostly) dry in the northern Alps.

PowderAlert #9
PowderAlert #9

3. Will there be a northern 'kickback'?

The answer is simple: No! That's not good news for the Freeride Weeks in Kitzbühel. A 14-day Freeride Event will start on the 6th of January, with wePowder member Allard Faas is organizing a Freeride Filmworkshop, with prizes up to 5000 euros! It's too warm in Kitzbühel, but a good long-term forecast might extend the window of the compition.

Midlong term

Monday is pretty mild (again) and this will pretty much the case for the rest of the week. One look on the maps and you'll know enough.

Southern current = too mild

Aren't there any positive points? I'm sorry, but no…so don't shoot the messenger. I've checked the ‘plumes' for the Alps and they doesn't make me happy. The red line is the average temperature on 1350 meters. The highs and lows at the bottom of the graph are representing the precipitation. The different colours are the output of the different model calculations. If the lines are close to each other, the calculations are pretty certain. I've checked three points in the Alps that give an expectation for the northern, southern and western Alps.

Northern Alps

Some flakes around PowderAlert #9, but the temperatures are too high and it's been dry for too long. The models agree till the 10th of January and little fluctuations will start just after that. There might be a change in the weather from the 12th.

Northern Alps
Northern Alps

Southern Alps

You can see the peak of PowderAlert #9, but the temperatures are too high here as well and it will stay that way. You'll find the best conditions in the inneralpine regions. They're less influenced by the mild temperatures. Look between the larch trees or on faces with a northern exposure. You might find some powder there. Same with north faces in the higher alpine, but you'll have to watch out for avalanches there. The snowcover still is not stable.

Southern Alps
Southern Alps

Western Alps

You can see the peak of PowderAlert #9, but the temperatures are too high here as well and it will stay that way. You'll find the best conditions in the inneralpine regions. They're less influenced by the mild temperatures. Look between the larch trees or on faces with a northern exposure. You might find some powder there. Same with north faces in the higher alpine, but you'll have to watch out for avalanches there. The snowcover still is not stable. Resorts like Les Trois Vallées, the Maurienne valley and Paradiski still have a thin snowcover above 2000 meters. Watch out for sharks.

Western Alps

Summary

PowderAlert #9 will be mild with lots of precipitation and it will be dry for a (too) long time after that. You can find powder on north faces in the western and southern Alps on Sunday and Monday. Especially on Sunday, when the snow is less humid because of the cold temperatures. You'll have to look for powder in the inneralpine valleys in the western and southern Alps in the rest of the week. Stay alert above the treeline. People will start thinking about touring to find powder more and more, but the snowcover is still not stable.

And again, the warning that might save your life: 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.

Stay stoked

Morris


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