Storm Hiltrud has exceeded my expectations. Not only have she brought snow in the Northern Alps. No, she was that strong she even brought snow to the neighboring areas and that is unusual for a storm that brought so much cold air. Less obvious was the wind which accompanied the snowfall. And that wind has created a dangerous situation.
We warned you before for a very unstable snowcover. Around 20-50 centimeters of snow (and in the northern areas locally even 70-100 centimeters of snow) fell on top of the old snow layer. Thus the avalanche danger suddenly increased from 1 to 3 or even 4. The weight of a single skier or boarder is sufficient to break the snowcover and trigger an avalanche. Going off-piste thus requires a lot of knowledge the next couple of days. Even more than in a 'normal' situation. If you don't have that knowledge, or when you don't trust your own decisions, please hire a ski and mountain guide, or stay on the slopes!
If you go off piste, always carry an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe with you. In addition, make sure you know your local avalanche bulletin and adapt your plans to it. Think three times before you follow other tracks and do not ride a line because others are already riding it. The situation at the moment is really dangerous! Winter is still young. What you can't ride today, you'll probably can later in the season. Be patient!
Northern stau snow machine is on!
The north circulation has started. The air is very cold, there is sufficient moisture in the air and the northern Alps will still receive a lot of cold pi-pa-powder. You can expect 25-50 centimeters, locally even 75 centimeters of snow in the northern Alps. When we proceed into the main alpine ridge, you'll see that they don't get that much snow or it will even stay dry in some cases. The cold temperatures will bring very dry powder in the sheltered parts of the ski resorts. The snow above the tree line however will be subject to lots of wind. But among the trees you can find Canadian style champaign powder.
How much snow came down and what are the conditions?
The big winners so far are the north of the Voralberg and Kleinwalsertal. Since the start of the snowfall they had 80 to 115 centimeters of freshies. And with the snowfall yet to come in the next 96 hours, this will be snowiest region of the Alps. But with 50-70 centimeters a lot of other resorts in the northwest of the Alps aren't that bad either. The eastern parts of Tyrol, Salzburg and Styria are a little behind, but with 25-50 centimeters that are still to come for those regions it's going to be deep over there as well. Biggest deal breaker the next couple of days will be the wind, causing the avalanche danger to remain critical.
With all the reports coming in the last 48 hours we have a good impression of the snow that has fallen. Thanks! And keep sharing!
Northern Alps east: 10-40 centimeters of fresh snow. The further east you go, the less snow came down. The next 96 hours this region will get another 15-50 centimeters of freshies, and the riding will be good below the tree line. Above the tree line the avalanche situation is critical. The snow below the treeline is often too thin right now, but this will improve in the next couple of days days. Conditions here: - / + to +
Northern Alps central: 20-50 centimeters of fresh snow. In the Kleinwalsertal and northern Voralberg even 80-115 centimeters. Particularly around the Kleinwalsertal the conditions have become very good. Other areas could still use some snow, but there is certainly more to come the next 96 hours. Please be careful above the tree line because of the high avalanche danger. Conditions here: + to +++
Northern Alps West: 30-70 centimeters of fresh snow. Lots of wind above the tree line, but below the tree line the conditions are fine. The snowfall will decrease the next couple of days, but still expect another 20-50 centimeters in the eastern regions and locally even 80 centimeters. Conditions here: + to +
Western Alps north: 30-70 centimeters of fresh snow. Lots of wind above the tree line, but below the tree line you'll find fine conditions. No more significant snowfall. Large avalanche danger at the moment. Conditions here: + to ++
Western Alps Central: 30-70 centimeters, locally even 100 cm of fresh snow in Haute Tarentaise. Lots of wind above the tree line, but below the tree line you'll find fine conditions. No more significant snowfall. Large avalanche danger at the moment. Conditions here: + to ++, but beware of powder stress!
Western Alps south: 5-50 centimeters of fresh snow. The northern areas received the most snow, more to the south they had almost nothing. Especially around and just south of the Ecrins lots of snow came down. In the Southern Alps they already had a good base above 1800-2000 meters and the first tree runs are possible. Lots of wind above the tree line, but below the tree line you'll find great conditions. No more significant snowfall. Large avalanche danger at the moment. Conditions here: + to +++
Southern Alps West: 0-15 centimeters of fresh snow. Lots of wind above the tree line and few fresh snow. Close to the border with France you'll find the most freshies. No more significant snowfall. Conditions here are: - to - / +
Southern Alps Central: 0-25 centimeters of fresh snow. Lots of wind above the tree line and relatively little fresh snow. Close to the border with Switzerland you'll find the most freshies. No more significant snowfall. Conditions here are: - to +
Southern Alps east: 0-20 centimeters of fresh snow. Lots of wind above the tree line and few fresh snow. Close to the border with Austria you'll find the most freshies. No more significant snowfall. Conditions here are: - to - / +
The northern Stau will dominate the Alps until Thursday and it will continue to snow in the northern parts of Switzerland and Austria. It will be cold and there occasionally is a strong wind. The western Alps and the southern Alps won't get any significant snow. It is sunny over there, less cold, but there is a strong wind. The avalanche danger will continue to be high the next couple of days. You'll have to go the northern Stau areas in Austria and Switzerland for the most snow.
The northern Stau will lose its grip on the Alps after New Year and this allows us to look to the west for new snow fronts coming in. I'm pretty sure that these fronts will bring more snow, but it's not sure where this is going to happen. More details the next couple of days!
Enjoy the fresh pow and ride safe!