Last weekend it was pretty good in the Alps. Lots of fresh snow and beautiful weather made sure that the local reports trickled in. The snow cover has grown a lot the last couple of weeks and you can find a closed snow cover at a lot of places above 2000-2200 meters. This gives this winter a beautiful and promising start. Well, if you love the lower mountain ranges in Austria (such as the Salzburgerland and the eastern parts of Tirol) you'll have to wait a bit longer, but the rest of the Alps is ready for winter.
Bad news however is the report of a victim in Switzerland. Reportedly, on Thursday, November 20th a hiker got hit by an avalanche, that dragged him down and where he deceased because of his injuries as a result of his fall. It is still unclear whether the man was pushed over by an avalanche, or slipped and then caused a small avalanche. Anyway sad news and let's hope this will be last deadly victim of an avalanche (at least for a while).
PA#2: Piemonte oohoo, Piemonte oohoo
If the concept 'Northern Stau' gives you goose bumps, then the last three weeks must have almost been traumatic. Northern Stau became Southern Föhn and you probably already started a course in Italian. And the news is even worse. In November there will be no significant amounts of snow for the northern Alps. No, the last days are for the Piemonte. And that's bad news for fans of the Salzburgerland. Because with the weather coming in from the south the meadows remain green in the north, while it looks lovely and white in the south.
These are painful differences. On the other hand it the northern Alps usually only need two good dumps to let the green meadows turn white again. Nothing to worry about so far. But it gnaws, I understand that. Fortunately, it appears that early December will bring some snow to the north. But first the south!
The jet stream is located west of the Alps, so the incoming air is relatively warm. If there wouldn't be any mountains, the freezing level would be around 2,600 meters. Fortunately, the orography in the Po Valley helps the air rise intense and therefore the air cools down much faster than you as a layman would expect. The snow line drops to around 1300 to 1700 meters on Thursday, and the freezing level will fluctuate between 1900 and 2200 meters. Again a lot of snow for the higher alpine so that the higher parts of areas like Via Lattea, Isola 2000, Serre Chevalier, Vars-Risoul etc. will benefit. And as more often, this dump comes in two phases.
From today through Thursday. The weather has a southwesterly component, making it into the 'Stau regions' of the Ecrins and of the Piz Bernina where it will cool down the most and where we can expect the most snow. A really small low pressure system brings moisture from the southwest, the isobaric lines are limited and the precipitation will be between 20 and 60 centimeters above 2100 meters.
Friday to Sunday. The current is south to southeast, thus the real 'Stau' can be found in the Piemonte. I expect lots of snow above 2000 meters. Details can still change of course.
Riding powder this weekend?
The instability will probably last (too) long, and the snow line is too high to find some good visibility between the trees. However, if there will be a blue spot this weekend, I'll share the best destinations for the weekend with you. But the weather looks much better after the weekend. We'll see. PowderAlert# 2 is in the air.
Long term... Northern stau?
There is a chance of a northern Stau (a small one) in the middle of next week. This Stau was visible on the weather maps the last 48 hours. It is still too early to hoist the flag for the northern Alps, but some stoke is more than understandable. There is hope for the northern Alps.
The next update will be on Thursday.