Yes, it's coming! And because we look ahead for six days, there is more snowfall of the storm visible on the snow maps. Check out the numbers! In the next six days resorts like Chamonix, Paradiski and Engelberg will get a lot of snow. You can expect up to one meter of the white fluffy stuff in some places. After 24 days without precipitation in the Alps the winter is here!
The snow cover right now is smaller than the annual average. But if we can learn something from the storms in North America in recent weeks than we know that a few good dumps can make a difference. From no snow at all to a snow cover that's locally 5 times thicker than normal. That's the status in a lot of resorts in the US and Canada right now. Can this happen in the Alps as well?
Whatever will happen in the next couple of weeks, this first dump is a good one. There isn't much snow yet in the northwest of the Alps and they will get the most snow this weekend. The weather maps of both the Europeans and the Americans showed no significant differences, so we can tell you this with quite a lot certainty.
There's no need to have a look at the different positive points anymore, because they're more positive than ever. It's time to start finetuning. Is it worth it to go the Alps this weekend? In terms of snowfall it's not that complex. Cold air is on its way to the Alps from the northwest and will hit the mighty peaks of the Haute Savoie and Wallis, with resorts like Chamonix, Verbier and Zermatt. It will reach the main alpine ridge, but won't go as far as the southern Alps. The Savoie and Isère, with resorts like Val d'Isère, Courchevel, Les Arcs and Alpe d'Huez will get a lot of snow, but it probably won't snow at all in regions like the Maurienne and Ecrins.
Emerging high pressure west of the British Isles forces the depression to move to the east and the the rest of Switzerland and Austria will get their share. At the same time there is a low pressure area forming south of the Alps. This low pressure area is forecasted in the Po Valley and not more to the south in the Gulf of Genoa. The result is that the chances of a retour d'est are very small. If it will snow south of the Alps it will be in the Balkan countries and maybe the southeast of the Alps. This obviously can change. The combination of cold air, the Po Valley and the warm Mediterranean sea always has surprises that we usually can only forecast with a lot of certainty about 24 to 36 hours in advance. More details about that the next couple of days.
It will be for sure in the northwest on Sunday. But with restrictions. There aren't that much resorts open in this region and there's no such thing as a base over there. The snowfall will be accompanied by strong winds, blowing the snow from the windward side to the leeward side of the mountain. And the snow that was already there looks like sugar and this old snow cover is very unstable. The temperature is dropping as well. It's not that it will rain or that the snow will be wet for around 24 hours to stabilize the snow cover. No, it will get cold straight away.
Having said all of that, I think Sunday will still be a beautiful day for a first tour. Alpine meadows, gentle slopes and slopes in the resorts. They will be perfect to hike or skin up and then descend with relatively little risk. The high alpine is a different story. The sharks are close, the wind is a significant factor and with the exception of Tignes, there is little open in the northwest of the Alps.
The south side of the Alps probably won't get too much snow, so we have to focus on the resorts north of the main alpine ridge. The lifts on the Austrian glaciers are running for a while, but they didn't get any snowfall since the middle of October. The crevasses are still an issue and the sharks are not far away. Add to that that the visibilty will remain poor till Sunday. No, many risks and little visibility. If the forecast will stay like this, than Monday might be a better option.
The outlines are clear. It will snow and it will snow hard. But the details are still unclear for a custom PowderAlert. I'll start finetuning the next couple of days to make the most of this PowderAlert.
The long term is a bit chaotic but the outlines offer perspective. The tendency is that it stays colder than normal with continous precipitation. And that gives me a smile on my face!
More details tomorrow!