We just enjoyed PowderAlert #10 (check out some nice shots here), and the reports are still coming in, but now it’s time to get ready for PowderAlert #11. This will be a weekend to get some days off and make some powder turns. Four days of snowfall will start shortly, but not in the complete Alps. Fortunately, there aren’t many tourists in the Alps at the moment. Christmas is over and it’s not very likely that everybody will drive to the Alps for a weekend of powder, especially because it’s a weekend with snowfall. It will be a good weekend, right?
The forecasted quantities of snow were spot on. The differences between the northern Alps and the southern Alps got bigger and bigger. You can find around 200-250 centimeters of snow at 2000 meters altitude in large parts of the southern Alps. The snow cover in the northern Alps however is just 50-100 centimeters. The thick layers of snow in the southern Alps put the weak layer in the snowpack from the beginning of this winter away very deep. Because of this, the risk of triggering an avalanche by hitting that weak layer is getting smaller. The avalanche situation improved in large parts of the Alps.
An active low pressure area named Helga will set the Alps on fire. Lots of snow will fall, starting on Thursday, fired by a south- to southwest current. And guess what? It’s the same old story again: snow for the southern Alps, Föhn for the northern Alps.
When the northern Alps are your favorite destination, or if you’re living there, now is the time to splash some cash on a trip to the southern Alps. This winter has been a winter for Les Sudistes (as the French people in France would say) so far. And that’s not about to change any time soon. Snow for the south, Föhn for the north.
This is all caused by a low pressure area named Helga. She’s transporting snow to the southern Alps helped by a southwestern jet stream. This jet stream marks the division between cold air and warm air and this weekend you’ll find this division right above the Alps. If you want to track the jet stream yourself, you can do that here. When the jet stream is firing up the Alps, there will be one side that will get a lot of snow (Stau) and one side where there will be a lot of wind (Föhn).
When the current is moving from the south to the north, you can easy spot this Stau-Föhn combination on the Föhnchart of Switzerland. This chart will show you if and when there will be a Föhn wind. The first snow will come in from the southwest from Thursday to Friday and the second snow front will come in from Saturday to Sunday.Southern Föhn = snow for the southern Alps
This will be the headlines for the next couple of days. The first snow from the southwest will come down on Thursday. The snow line in the southern Alps will be around 600-900 meters, in the western Alps around 1200-1500 meters. There will be a Föhn wind in the northern Alps. The front will kick in again on Friday, and it will snow again in the western and southern Alps. The snow line will be around 900-1200 meters and there will be a Föhn wind again in the northern Alps.
I expect the most snow in the French southern Alps, the southern Alps central and the southern Alps east. You can expect around 25-60 centimeters of freshies. The western Alps central and the western Alps north can expect 15-35 centimeters. The northern Alps might get between 2-10 centimeters and…locally even nothing…
The second front will hit the Alps on Saturday. It’s too early for the details, which will follow on Thursday/Friday. One thing is pretty sure: this front has his eye on the western and southern Alps (the southern Alps will get the most snow). Did we hear this before? When I look at the maps right now, I expect it to snow till Tuesday.
Search for resorts in the southern Alps with lots of trees (preferably larch trees) to enjoy PowderAlert #11. The riding will be great from Friday and it will good for many days. The snow might be a little bit warm, so don’t expect any cold smoke blower pow. This might be the case in the inner alpine valleys that are colder. More details on Thursday.