PA #12: alert poudreuse/polvere di neve

By meteomorris on 13 February 2015 · 0

Still powder to be found
Still powder to be found

The weather with blue skies and sunny days will come to an end. Storm Quinn pushes high pressure area Gabriela away and the (western and southern) Alps will have to deal with freshies in large amounts again. You couldn't have wished for a better start of the holidays. But then again...

Quinn is pushing Gabriela away
Quinn is pushing Gabriela away


  • Saturday morning snow in the southern French Alps and in the southern Stau of the Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc (Courmayeur).

  • Saturday afternoon the snowfall expands into the rest of the French Alps, the Swiss region of Valais and the area south of the Gotthard tunnel and the Brenner Pass.

  • Especially riders who go to France and Italy will have to deal with serious snowfall and problems on the road. The snow line is expected to drop during the day to 600-1200 meters.

  • Saturday a strong southern Föhn and blue skies in eastern Switzerland and northern Austria.

  • In the night to Sunday and Sunday itself the snowfall expands to the Dolomites and Carinthia.

  • In the course of Sunday, there is a second front from the southwest coming in with snow again for the French Southern Alps and this will bring snow to the Italian Alps on Monday.

  • In the north of the Alps than continuous Föhn and dry.

  • Tuesday it might snow in the northwestern Alps with a return d'est for the Piedmont to finish PowderAlert #12.

This is what it will be like and we can get start to make some choices. Do you already know where to go? Pre-booked? You'll have to deal with these conditions next week:

Austria: Föhn and sun in the north, possibly some snow and strong winds in the main alpine ridge and snow in Carinthia on Sunday and Monday

Switzerland: in the north Föhn and sun until Tuesday. Some snow from the north on Tuesday. In the west (Valais) Saturday and Tuesday, but especially the south (south of the Gotthard and the Engadine) lots of snow between Saturday and Tuesday.

Italy: continuous snowfall between Saturday and Wednesday. Starting from the Monte Rosa and the Ortler, but later expanding to the Dolomites and Piedmont. Later, more and more cloudy, although it may snow a bit longer in the Piedmont.

French Northern Alps: snow especially on Saturday and Sunday, snow again on Tuesday and dry and sun after that.

French Southern Alps: A lot of snow on Saturday and Sunday

Snowfall the next four days
Snowfall the next four days

Problems on the roads?

It will be really busy on the roads in the southern French Alps, south of the Gotthard and south of the Brenner from Saturday morning. It will snow continuously, it is crowded and there are many inexperienced drivers on the road who rarely drive on snow. Expect hassle with snow chains and roads blocked by badly prepared vacationers. This phenomenon will happen in the rest of the French Alps and extends to the Italian Dolomites.

If you really have to be on the road that day, then have a look at the Bison Futé website in France. Saturday is regarded as a so-called 'Black Saturday' in the French Alps with a lot of traffic moving to and from the ski resorts in the French Alps. The tourists from Paris traditionally drive in the night from Friday to Saturday towards the Alps, so there's pretty much no escape. Is it really a tragedy, book a hotel, enjoy some reading and ride to your destination on Sunday morning. Saves you a lot of frustration.

Also in Switzerland snowfall can cause some problems. I expect traffic jams near the Gotthard and the snow south of the Gotthard will fall on the highways. Now the Swiss will probably do everything to keep the roads open, but when it's really busy the snowplough can't pass. Follow the latest developments on the site of the TCS.

Where to go?

Imagine you're really flexible, you have nothing booked in advance and you want to take advantage of this dump. Then these are my tips.

  1. Skip Saturday and leave for the Alps on Saturday afternoon or Sunday

  2. For the best powder you'll have to go to:
  1. On Monday, you'll find the best snow in:

The advices for Tuesday and later will follow on Sunday, but as I said there will be snow in the northwest of the Alps on Monday and Tuesday. After Wednesday it will be cloudy and if we have to believe the models the sun will come out and it will be warmer everywhere. But again there is a northern Stau lurking, but if it will make it? First get started and enjoy PowderAlert #12.

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. The last few hours the avalanche danger in a part of the Alps dropped to 2, but you still have to be careful. Even in the areas where it is 'only' 2.

Current avalanche danger in Switzerland
Current avalanche danger in Switzerland

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!

Stay stoked



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