No snow till Friday
There's still powder to be found in the trees
After that southwest current and lots of powder in the southwest and the south
PowderWatch is now a PowderAlert
Dry and warm until Friday
When you have a look at the webcams and reports right now, blue skies and sun are dominating. You can hardly imagine that there is snow coming at the end of the week. But a look at the weather maps says it all. Storm Quinn is getting ready to bring some more snow this winter. And we can get ready for PowderAlert #12.
The wind will turn to the south on Friday. The northern Alps will have to deal with a southern Föhn and the temperatures will rise. The first clouds are coming in in the west and it will start snowing by the end of the day.
PowderAlert: Southwestern current = PA#12
Although GFS was indicating snow for the west yesterday, I dared to say that it would be snowfall from the southwest. A quick look at the jet stream maps was enough to confirm this. GFS and ECMWF today confirm this assumption. A southwesterly current will normally bring lots of snow between Monte Rosa and the Ortler (and possibly even more to the east) and the French Southern Alps. During the cold fronts it will snow in the rest of the French Alps, western Switzerland, the Jura, the Black Forest and sometimes Voralberg as well. Although in this case the calculations are mainly in favor of the southern and western Alps and snow for the northern Alps is pretty much gone. More details will pop up the next couple of days. Therefore, I will limit myself for now by naming those regions where PowderAlert #12 will provide snow for sure. A PowderAlert applies to the following regions:
Southern Alps Central (from Saturday till Tuesday)
Western Alps South (from Saturday till Tuesday)
Western Alps Central (from Sunday/Monday)
Western Alps North (from Sunday/Monday)
In addition, there might be snow for the northern Alps, but that's absolutely not sure yet. Therefore there is a PowderWatch for:
What about Austria?
If there will be no snow for the northern Alps, than Austria will have to deal with heavy winds from the south and mild temperatures. If this happens, be warned. Lots of wind (even with blue skies and sunshine) will transport a lot of snow close to ridges, couloirs, etc. This transported snow connects very badly and slowly and will cause instant avalanche danger. For a layman it is difficult to recognize this. The wind is strong, but it's nice weather right? Exactly, but that's really dangerous.
It will be busy on the roads
The holidays will start on February 14th in the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany (including Bavaria and Saarland), northern Austria, in parts of Italy, Norway and Sweden and coming weekend tout Paris has vacation. In addition, the holiday weeks in England, Switzerland and the south and east of France are already in full swing. In short: it will be really busy on the roads to and from the ski areas. You'd better wait till Sunday to start your powder trip. It's not that busy on the roads and there's already some snow from PowderAlert #12 so can ride some powder between the trees.
It will get busy, to and from and within the Alps and therefore we'll have to wait where they are going to fall exactly. Skip next Saturday. But I expect that it is ON again from Sunday. More about that the next couple of days.
Please watch out!
Lots of people on the mountain results in powder stress and this means being on faces where you don't really want to be. How tempting the terrain above the tree line looks like, it's still pretty dangerous (and in forests with steep faces above) there. The snow cover is very unstable. Both deep in the snow cover as on the top layers you can find unstable layers. In addition, the transitions from a thick to a thin snow cover and vice versa are best to avoid.
Avalanche danger still critical
So do not forget (with all the stoke) that the snow cover is still built up quite poor in many parts of the Alps. This winter, there were already 69 fatalities due to avalanches! Therefore choose tree runs with not too steep faces above you. By doing that you eliminate a large part of the problems and risks. If you're heading to the Alps the coming days, be alert. Check your local daily avalanche bulletin, make sure you have the right gear with you and that you have the right knowledge. No knowledge? Are you not sure? Say no to off piste and wait for conditions to improve. If in doubt, do not go out!