FC Northern Alps beats FC Southern Alps, because after the magic month of November with huge amounts of snowfall above 2,000 meters in the Southern Alps, it's snowing almost continuously in parts of the Northern Alps since the 25th of December. That's nearly a week of snowfall in the east of Switzerland, Voralberg the west of Tyrol. And a lot of snow can come down in one week. Around 200 centimeters of freshies came down in the first mountains in the Vorarlberg. More to the south, the quantities are getting lesser and the northern winds more powerful.
The snow cover is kind of pressed at the moment because of the settling process and the wind. There is an average snow cover of one meter at 2000 meters altitude in the northern Alps and FC Northern Alps beats FC Southern Alps at the moment. Who would have thought that ten days ago? But the end of PA #4 is near. The Siberian-style temperatures are going up, the wind slowly (very slowly) calms down the next couple of days and the northern Alps won't have to deal with any precipitation, just like the southern Alps and western Alps. But that's not going to last for long.
New Year's Day will be sunny everywhere!
The jet stream will be located more to the north, the current turns to the south-west, high pressure ensures sunshine and blue skies and warmer air is coming in. The northern Alps are ending 2015 with some nice weather, but PowderAlert #5 is just around the corner. We can conclude now that the start of winter 14-15 only brought us four PowderAlerts. And that's not much. But on the other hand, there's plenty of snow everywhere right now and the season will last for four more months.
The snowcover is still unstable
With the recent snowfall, the strong winds and the old sugar snowlayers, the avalanche situation isn't that good. This will get even worse when the temperatures will go up. Watch out the next couple of days. We warned you before for a very unstable snowcover. 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!
After all the light fluffy powder of PA #4 this is going to be a completely different PowderAlert. We're going to get a snowline yoyo. This will be a period with a westerly jet stream that, according to the latest calculations, will be located just north of the Alps. It could mean that at one time the snow will fall deep into the valleys, but it could also mean that the snow line will be much higher only 12 hours later. Fronts from the southwest are interspersed with northwestern fronts and some high pressure will provide temporary blue skies with sunshine. The northwest of the Alps will be the region to watch. The snow will be a bit heavier than the snow that came down the last couple of days. More European style powder and not super light anymore.
Because in such currents details are shifting a lot everything you'll read below applies with some reservations. I'll let you know on the second of January.
Thursday: warmer in the Alps. Warm air is coming in and the sun will come out
Friday: First high clouds are visible. At the end of the day snow (and rain) in the northwest. Snow line towards the 1800 meters in France and 1300 meters in Austria. Southern Alps will be dry and windy.
Saturday: Hang tight, because the cold front is coming. Lots of snow between Grenoble and Innsbruck. The northwestern part of the Alps will get the most snow. Western Valais, the Haute Savoie, the first mountains in the Savoie and Isère, Engelberg, the Glanerland and of course the north of the Voralberg, the Kleinwalsertal and western Tyrol can expect lots of snow. Snow line will drop towards the 1100 meters in France and 700 meters in Voralberg.
Sunday: Still snow, but especially for the northern Alps. Snow line will rise a bit. Intense wind and sun in the Southern Alps.
Where to go?
Nothing planned yet? Your best bet is the Vorarlberg and the west of Tyrol. Saturday won't be epic, but Sunday will be cold and deep and Monday will be sunny. After that it's all still uncertain. A new update on Friday!
This is my last update of 2014. See you in 2015!