Where in the Alps falls the most snow?

By meteomorris on 6 October 2015 · 4

People often ask me where exactly in the Alps the most snow falls. Is it Damüls, where they claim to be the snowiest village in the world? The uncrowned Gotthard region, where they get snow from all directions? Or the areas south of the Ecrins that get hammered with a retour d'est? Or is it another region?

I've been doing some research to answer the question and that was quite hard. Obviously you can have a look at the data provided by the ski resorts, but you can ask yourself the question how reliable that data is. In a world where pretty much everything is allowed to market your destination, terms like 'snow guarantee' or 'snowiest resort' work pretty well. In addition to that: the ski season is much more than Christmas and Spring holidays. It normally starts snowing before the lifts are even open and it also happens that it's still snowing after the lifts are closed at the end of the season. And then there is a lot of data that's simply not available. Sometimes because you have to pay ridiculous amounts of money, sometimes because organizations don't want to share their data with others. And sometimes we just don't know that data is available.

Is my hunger for knowledge and data a dead end? No, certainly not, I've already found a lot of interesting data. In the coming weeks I take you step by step along the data adventure that I have made in recent weeks. Everything started with a research of Isotta, F.A. et al from 2014. As a result of this study, they published a map with an overview of the average annual precipitation in the Alps. That map was my starting point and it looks like this when plotted on a Google Map. You'll see the average annual precipitation in the Alps in mm on the map below. Precipitation that mostly comes down as snow in most resorts and where one millimeter of water roughly equals 1 cm of snow.

Gemiddelde jaarlijkse neerslag in mm ((c)Isotta, F.A. et al en bewerkt door wePowder)

Looking at the map, three areas stand out. An area west of Andermatt, where peaks as the Eiger and the Jungfrau are located, an area to the north (east) of the Kleinwalsertal and an area east of Forni di Sopra and Nassfeld. Areas where they get more than 2000 mm of water every year. That's around 20 meters of snow if it's cold enough.

Average annual precipitation in mm ((c)Isotta, F.A et al)

The Gotthard region

​We can call the precipitation peak west of the Gotthard region an open secret on wePowder. The region picks up snow from just about every direction. In addition, there is an array of (almost) 4000-meter high peaks. Andermatt is a powder destination and it's well known (just check out the lines to the Gemsstock on a powder day). Also the Lötschental is known for a lot of snowfall, but a powder magnet? And what about the Jungfrau region more to the north? Is that a powder magnet?

Average annual precipitation in mm ((c)Isotta, F.A et al)


It's not a secret either that the Kleinwalsertal gets a lot of snow as well. They take great pride in this snow guarantee and it's the place to be to ride powder when the storm kicks in from the north.

Average annual precipitation in mm ((c)Isotta, F.A et al)

Alpi Giulie

But what about that third purple stain? The Alpi Giulie are relatively unknown, expect to some locals and some silent fans. But for anyone who's checking the avalanche forecasts for the Alps and the data from the weather stations, it shouldn't be a secret at all. You can often find a snow cover of a couple of meters in this region, even at low altitude. Resorts such as Nassfeld and Forni di Sopra get a lot of snow when the storms come from the south.

Are the maps above the answer to all questions?

Not really. Because what about those immense Stau's coming from the south? The renowned retour d'est? The claims of areas like Fieberbrunn or Tauplitz? A top such as the Säntis and what about the western Alps? Do powder magnets such as La Rosière and Flaine in France get less snow? Well, part of the answer is already hidden in the data above. It concerns the average precipitation measured over a full year. The warm rain that falls in the summer months is also shown on the map above.

But are the influences of the season that big? And does this lead to other places where it snows intense during winter? Well... the answers are both yes and no...

Do you also have interesting data?

I'll publish more data and analysis the next few weeks, but perhaps you know more data sources, analysis or speculation that you think they can be useful. Do not hesitate to share it with me. Just like the questions you might have now!


  • Lukas95
    Lukas95 op 12 October 2015 · 15:47
    I knew that Kleinwalsertal always gets a lot of snow. Seems like there's always more there than in other valleys.
    Give me powder please
  • NeKaj
    NeKaj op 18 October 2015 · 20:47
    Cool article!

    Maybe you can get average precipitation on monthly level and look only on dec-march...

    And According to the map abowe it looks like Kanin / Sella Nevea get most snow compared to Nassfeld or Forni...
  • Marky
    Marky op 19 March 2020 · 10:22
    Hi Morris,
    It's over 4 years since you did this interesting post, so do you have any update ? Bearing in mind the season has been cut short, it would be good to get your feedback and give us all something to think about for next season ?
  • Caliga
    Caliga op 3 March 2021 · 14:26
    I´ve also been researching into this question! Meteoschweiz offer good maps on precipitation for each calender month and whole seasons, plus I´ve also found good data from Tirol and Südtirol which was trickier to find. A few snowbelts are visible on the maps: One starting from the Chamonix area reaching into Western Switzerland and also the Aletsch and Gotthard area, but it does seem mostly concentrated on high and very elevations in both places, which given the snow level of most storms they receive (West and Southwest) makes sense for us anyway. Another one is Western Ticino into Italy, from experience it certainly does get some great snow and it´s where I´ve skied the thickest base so far. Then one along the eastern Voralpen, starting east of Urnersee and peaking around the Bregenzer Wald area. As their main snow comes in from the Northwest and North the quality and amount of snow combined with the available terrain probably makes this belt the sweet spot of the alps. In Tirol it seems the Hohe Tauern and Karwendel frequently get hammered, I don´t have any on-snow experience there though.
    Obviously these are averages and every storm is different, also local knowledge can help finding spots that aren´t necessarily obvious on the maps. In the alps it pays to be flexible both time and location wise, possibly more so than in other mountain ranges because of the different directions the snow can come from. That´s where the good work of Wepowder helps 😃


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