PA#12: Apocalypse powder

By meteomorris on 23 January 2014 · 4

At the beginning of the season we were watching with envy at Japan or Canada, but the next couple of days pretty much all the snow is directed to Europe. The Alps, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia will all get their share of powder! Stretch your weekend a bit and it's going to be deep. Guaranteed! I'm focussing on the Alps in this forecast.

I've told you yesterday what is about to happen on a global scale, but now it's time for the details. wePowder user Vik had some interesting questions. 'I had planned a family trip next weekend in Zell am See, but we've cancelled it. But…I still have time to go skiing and we'll definitely do so from Saturday. I pay close attention to your forecasts and I'm thinking of going to Flaine, PDS, Tignes or maybe ValTho, but I've heard that the base isn't that good. I don't really know Switzerland, but that should be awesome right now. Can you give me some advice? Thanks! And Vik is thinking correct, something you could tell from my forecast from yesterday. Where should you go?

Everybody was kinda shocked from the images from the Salzburgerland and there’s a huge differences with the images of @Powdernick (one of the users of shot during PowderAlert #11 deep in the southern Alps.

And check out these cold smoke blower pow images from Norway. A PudderAlert resulted in Japanese Canadian style powder and user @JAnderB from Hemsedal sent us this video.

Just imagine spending your holiday in the northern Alps the last two weeks…But change is on its way. The meteograms from yesterday already showed it and it’s getting pretty clear today: snow is on its way. The question is: should you ride in the northern Alps on Saturday already? Or should you choose for the southern Alps?

The temperature rose slowly but surely in the southern Alps the last couple of days. The sun already transformed the snow on slopes with a southern exposure. The snow is pretty humid on south facing slopes up to 2000 meters. Same story on western slopes up to 1500-1900 meters.

The temperature is rising
The temperature is rising

The snow is still really good on slopes with a northern or eastern exposure, in tight forests and in the inner alpine valleys (and of course on really high altitude). You’ll have to search for fresh powder in the southern Alps, except in the southern Alps east. Ok, it was a too warm over there during PowderAlert #11, but it will snow in the night from Thursday to Friday. The snow line will be around 600 meters and I expect around 15-30 centimeters of freshies, locally even 40 centimeters.

So, will it be the southern Alps? It’s sunny on Saturday and the sun will also come out on Sunday. You’ll find some fresh snow above the tree line if you’re willing to hike. The strong northern wind might cause some trouble though, causing drift snow that will increase the avalanche risk.

Heavy winds up to 10 Beaufort on the highest peaks in the southern Alps
Heavy winds up to 10 Beaufort on the highest peaks in the southern Alps

Heavy winds will hit the highest peaks all weekend, resulting in an high avalanche risk. Watch out when you’re riding in the southern Alps! You’re best shot are the cold, shadow rich forests.


A northwest Föhn also means a northwest Stau and that means snow in the northwest of the Alps. The jet stream has changed its course and now it’s time for significant quantities of snow in really cold temperatures. Forget the first three weeks of January, it’s northwest stau galore! Check out the snowmaps until Sunday.

Northwest galore
Northwest galore

We haven’t seen these colors for a while in the northwest! I expect around 40-70 centimeters, locally even 90 centimeters till Monday morning. So, should we all go to the northwest. This dump will come in phases. Every step will grow the snow cover, but they’ll need some before the riding is good. But watch out, because there are still weak layers in the snow pack around, especially in the inner alpine regions in Wallis. The snow cover in the forests is still thin and there are still lots of rocks. Don’t go full-throttle the first days. When the snow cover will get thicker, the situation will improve.

Step 1

There are some flakes coming down today, but the real front will pass in the night from Thursday to Friday. In the northwest at first, but this will expand into Tirol, the Salzburgerland and Steiermark on Friday. You can expect around 10-30 centimeters on Friday night (locally even 40 centimeters) in the regions listed below. I expect the most snow between Grenoble and west of the Arlberg, and in the Hohe Tauern as well.

Step 2

It will temporarily get warmer (+3 degrees on 1350 meters), but a new and active front will come in at the end of the afternoon causing it to cool down again. It will snow intense deep into the valleys. This front will hit the regions listed below:

This will cause a lot of freshies in the northwest stau regions of the Mont Blanc, the stau regions in the Swiss northern alpine ridge and the Arlberg. You can expect 30-50 centimeters on Monday night, locally even 70 centimeters.

Step 3

This step is still not really clear, but the exact details will follow during the weekend. There’s a big chance that a new front will arrive from the western, causing it to snow in the western Alps. It’s not quite sure if the northern Alps or the southern Alps will get snow in the slipstream of this front.

My advice for now: extend your weekend! Go to the northwest of the Alps, where it could get deep on Monday and Tuesday. So the answer the question of Vik: Flaine and PDS (Portes du Soleil) will get a lot of snow. Tignes and ValTho will get less snow, but the real problem is the visibility on Sunday and Monday. You should head into the trees of Val d’Isère or Méribel/Courchevel. You’ll be fine in western Wallis, just as in the resorts north of the northern Swiss alpine ridge. And remember….forest with a good base layer are your friend the next couple of days.

Stay stoked



  • Waynos
    Waynos op 23 January 2014 · 19:09
    Looking forward to the nord stau to hit Salzburgerkand and Steiermark. Was out in Salzburgerland last week, wasn't so bad. Was finding pockets of soft snow off piste on shady slopes and even some untouched ankle deep powder in Zauchansee. Variable conditions make for educational skiing, when the pow comes it will be easy and fun.
    More time on the slopes for property owners
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 23 January 2014 · 19:45
    @Waynos 'variable conditions make for educational skiing', will keep this quote in my mind!
    May the powder be with you.
  • jakob.melchior
    jakob.melchior op 28 January 2014 · 00:25
    so where did all that snow come down? it is not looking like much on the webcams (like grindelwald which is that red spot in the map). any sugestions where to go on Wednesday for a day of freeriding (maybe touring) from Zürich?
  • jakob.melchior
    jakob.melchior op 28 January 2014 · 00:27
    P.S. really enjoy your forecast this winter. fingers cross for more snow to the north


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