Snow for the northern Alps?

By meteomorris on 22 December 2014 · 0

Today's weather maps clearly show that change is coming in the weather pattern. The Azores high pressure area that locked down the weather in Europe for a long time, has given way to a low pressure area. The map of this afternoon clearly shows this. And everything indicates that this high pressure area is about to move. This gives the jet stream plenty of space to meander from the north to the south. A scenario which usually accommodate fronts to travel towards the Alps.

The maps from this afternoon. The Azores high pressure area has moved.
The maps from this afternoon. The Azores high pressure area has moved.

Is the Christmas week for the Alps saved?

At the moment, the former Azores high pressure area is pushed towards and it ensures blue skies, high temperatures and a strong wind from west to northwest for the Alps. A freezing level of 3000 meter or higher can be expected, especially on the north and west side of the Alps. But there are also opportunities for the south side of the Alps.

4 to 5 Bft (even up to 7 Bft) on any peak in the main alpine ridge

Only in the night between Wednesday and Thursday this high pressure area will lose its grip. After that a cold front will move to the Alps from the northwest. This front is cold enough to make the freezing level sink deep into the valleys and (probably the most important thing)...will bring snow! The front will arrive in the northwest of the Alps on Thursday and will slowly move to the east on Friday. The front that moves to the east leaves some room in the west of the Alps for higher temperatures and sunny spells in the night from Friday to Saturday.

It's not really sure how this will continue, but there seems to be room for more cold fronts from the northwest, during and after the weekend.

The cold front above the Alps on Thursday
The cold front above the Alps on Thursday

What will next week be like?

The skies will be blue, the temperatures will be high and the wind will be strong until Wednesday. This means that the high avalanche danger at the moment will last for a while. Cold air and clouds are moving in from the northwest on Thursday morning. It will snow deep into the valleys in the entire northern Alps on Friday and this snowfall will move from the west to the east. The sun will come out and the temperatures will be high on Saturday in the west and the last snow fronts will hit the Alps in the east. It's still uncertain from Sunday.

A small shift of the front can provide a considerable change in the areas rich of precipitation. But right now, the Northern Alps West and the Vorarlberg region are the ones to watch. I expect around 20 centimeters, perhaps locally even 35 centimeters of snow in the areas that will get the most snow until Saturday. It is certain that a new layer of snow is added to the current unfavorable structure of the snow cover.

Advice for the next couple of days

Are you in the northern Alps right now and do you need an activity to kill some time? Well, you could go searching for the last hidden snow pockets. There are still reports coming in on the PowderQuest app that show what's still possible in the northern Alps. There is no such thing as a base in a lot of resorts in the northern Alps, so knowledge is powder when it finally starts snowing. This is the moment to explore the area, so you'll know where to ride this Friday.

But to answer the main question: will there be snow for the northern Alps? Hell yeah! The Christmas week that started warm and green will end cold and white in the entire northern Alps and you'll be able to make your first powder turns of the season on the alpine meadows. This snowfall is very welcome for the resorts, but keep in mind that it's just not enough for a PowderAlert right now. The base is simply not good enough. But....the maps for the weekend and the week after look promising. More about that in the next forecast!

Stay stoked,



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