When we announced last week that there would be 2 to 4 and locally even up to 5 meters of snow coming down in the higher alpine, some people thought we were crazy. Meanwhile, the snow cover around the Simplon and Gotthard region is more than 300 centimeters. 300 centimeters that fell above 2000 meters and settled to about 130-180 centimeters because of temperature, wind, humidity in the air and the mass of the snow itself. A nice base for the resorts in the region, but also an acute risk of spontaneous avalanches. The avalanche danger that's in effect at the moment is high (4 on a scale of 5). And there's more snow to come.
I expect another meter of snow in the next 36 hours, with which we come awfully close to that of five meters of snow. Unfortunately, the air is relatively mild so the snow line is quite high.And another 100 cm+ extra
But that 4 to 5 meters did not fall everywhere. What we can say with certainty is that there is a kick-ass base above 2200 meters in the entire Alps, where the snow cover is the thinnest in the east of Austria and the Italian Dolomites. Further west it's awesome anywhere in the so-called Main Alpine Ridge. The snow cover is about one meter (after settling) and in the Gotthard region, Monte Rosa, the western Piemonte and western and northern Lombardia the snow cover is almost two meters thick in some places.
These immense amounts of snow are the result of strong and wet depressions from the south. This relatively mild air could (and still can) bring heavy precipitation to the Alps, but the downside is that this snow has a high snowline. The freezing level fluctuated between 1500 and 2200 meters (or higher) and it occasionally even rained to well over 2200 meters.Have a good look. A wet, but thick snowcover
This is without prejudice that there is in many places above 2000 meters a closed snow cover at the moment, which is good news. Because a thick snow cover above the tree line means that the rocks and sharks are less of a problem at the start of winter. The next 18 hours are for the south side of the Alps, but after that, just like last week, cold air is coming in from the northwest.Temperatures above zero in the valley of Andermatt
This type of weather is not what you need if you love the hills in Austria. Because it's completely green again in the so-called pre-Alps. A base for the rest of the season can only be found on the higher peaks. The snowfall now says nothing at all about what is to come in the middle of winter. But with the cold air that temporarily is coming in from the west, should give the addicts of the northern Alps some goosebumps.
North side white?
After all the violence in the south, there's some cold air coming in from the west tomorrow. It's only temporary, but sufficient enough to provide Switzerland and the far west of Austria with a white blanket. And as pretty much always in a situation like this, Andermatt is the place to be.
And so there is a nice dump on Wednesday in Switzerland where the snow line will temporarily rise to 1200 meters. Temporary, because warm air will come in after that.
Where to go?
Few resorts are open and the window with sunny spells is not really big. In addition, the higher temperatures are coming in soon and this won't be the time to enjoy some epic days. But for the addicts among us (note for 'gleitschnee' avalanches and the first slab avalanches this winter!) some tips.
Thursday and Friday: Go south!
Thursday and Friday cloudy and warm. Saas Fee, Zermatt and Cervinia are the resorts to go. Because they are at high altitude, the lifts are open and there's (a lot of) fresh snow. Diavolezza and Sulden am Ortler are open as well and are good options for Thursday and Friday. But the last two have had less snow the last two days.
The weekend? Another 150-200 centimeter of freshies
There will be a new storm system coming in from the south and this will bring another 150 centimeters or even more snow. Visibility is crap, intense snowfall on the south side and in the main alpine ridge and stormy winds blow in the northern Alps and the system still seems to hold until the middle of next week the Alps. There isn't that much fun this weekend. Maybe Saturday morning offers a small window, but otherwise it's snow, snow and more snow in the west and the south of the Alps. #winterisheretostay ... at least for the higher alpine.