Some perspective for the long term

By meteomorris on 8 January 2014 · 3

From Italy through the [PowderQuest app](
From Italy through the [PowderQuest app](

It's snowing right now in Revelstoke. The first two days of heliskiing and –boarding brought sun and powder. No sun tomorrow and more powder for us. How big is the difference with the northern Alps in Europe….You still have to wait till the 13th for some good news..


It's too warm in the Alps and the freezing level was around 2500 meters in many places. It's pretty unusual for the beginning of January. The 40-70 centimeter of PowderAlert #9 is having a hard time at the moment. The southern slopes are suffering.

Short term

A weak front will pass the Alps on Friday and Saturday. The jetstream is too far north and as a result the Alps will have to deal with warm air. This means snow at very high altitudes in the regions that will be hit by the front. You can expect some snow in the northern Alps, with a snowline around 1500 meters or even higher. It will be dry south of the main alpine ridge. You'll find the best snow there anyway, not because they're getting some freshies, but because of the snow that's already there. Where can you find a good base layer? Where is the snowpack as stable as it gets at the moment? Where is it cold enough?

Northern Alps

The complete northern Alps have to deal with a snowcover that's too little for the time of the year and there are weak layers that are too close to the surface. This is a receipe for problems and you can read about it in the avalanche bulletins. Add the rain till high altitude this weekend and you'll understand that's hard to find powder due to a lack of snow, the temperature and the instability of the snowcover. The couple of centimeters that will come down on Thursday night won't change a thing.

Western Alps

The central and northern western Alps have the same problem as the northern Alps. The exception is the southern part of the western Alps. They got plenty of snow since Christmas and the weak layer is deeper in the snowcover. But….it's getting too warm with a freezing level between 2500 and 3000 meters.

Southern Alps

The southern Alps had lots and lots of snow since Christmas. Locally even more than two meters. This has stabilized the snowpack quite a bit. It will get warm here as well, but not as warm as in the northern Alps. You can find the freezing level between 2000 and 2500 meters. So, it might pay when you'll start searching for pow. It's January and the sun is low. The influence of the sun isn't that big, even on faces that aren't that steep. It will be colder in the inneralpine regions.

The webcams are still showing snow on the trees in Sulden am Ortler, there's still snow on the roofs in St. Moritz and the roads in Passo Tonale are still white. The temperature didn't get above zero degrees in these valleys. If you want to go out, those areas are your best shot…

Long term

The weather might change after the 13th, but it's too early to forecast which regions in the Alps can expect snow. Nobody, expect voodoo priest, can do that. And I don't believe in voodoo.

Things will improve after the 13th

The good news: more cold temperatures and more humidity after the 13th. Winter is on its way. Have some patience for the details.

Stay stoked



  • georges
    georges op 9 January 2014 · 00:42
    I've convinced a group of 6 friends from Bulgaria to come to the alps for 9 days from friday, they land in Milan, where is best bet for snow at the end of the week (we can always move after a few days)?
    I was thinking of going to the Tarentaise, skinning and staying high? Any better ideas, maybe in italy? Any help much appreciated.
    Follow the snow
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 9 January 2014 · 07:56
    @georges... From Milan? I would say start around the Ortler region (Sulden am Ortler in Italy). As of monday you wil get fresh snow and with some luck it might snow al week.

    May the powder be with you.
  • richard1985
    richard1985 op 12 January 2014 · 16:17
    Hey Morris,

    Thanks for the heads up on the pack.

    Just checking; would you classify Bardonecchia as part of the "Western Alps" (but southern)?

    Also do you have any insights or thoughts as to the development/stability of the snow pack there?

    My first impressions are with the majority of the Melzet region facing North/NorthWest (as opposed to the Jaffreau facing South/SouthWest) and for the most part having low angles and trees should be ok for Melzet?

    Heading out there for 7 days from the 26th and any insider details would be ace!

    Ill make sure I share all my tracks & trails on OS Maps here when I return =)


    tree skiing all the way!


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