The countdown has started, the outlines are clear, but now the details. We still have more than 48 hours to go before winter really starts, and it is often in those last hours in which small changes can have big consequences. That one meter of snow in Chamonix and Engelberg is still on the maps, but what about Austrian resorts like Kaprun or Sankt Anton am Arlberg?
The front will stick around longer in the northwest of the Alps and as a result it will snow longer west of the line Grenoble - Mont Blanc - Oberstdorf (check out the map below).
Resorts like Chamonix, Verbier, Engelberg and Paradiski will get a lot of snow this weekend. But at the same time the models aren't showing that low pressure area in the Po Valley anymore. The result is that the southern current disappears and the Austrian main alpine ridge won't be sandwhiched between two depressions. The snow is only coming from the northwest now and that means less snow for Austrian resorts. It isn't that bad, because the snow that's coming down in Austria will still make you smile, but the differences with the northwest of the Alps are striking.
Anyway, we still have 48 hours to go, and snow is coming. Our model is pretty conservative today and I hope to have a good idea of the low temperatures in the valleys tomorrow. If that's better than expected, the amount of snow could turn out higher than our model expects at the moment. Right now I expect around 30-75 cm at 2000 meters west of the line Grenoble - Mont Blanc - Oberstdorf. And around 20-50 cm at 2000 meters in Austria. More snow will come down at higher altitude. The Southern Alps and the French Southern Alps won't get any snow, or maybe a couple of centimeters. You can check out the more detailed snowfall on the resort pages, for example for Chamonix, Verbier and Engelberg.
You can see some short-term minor changes in the forecast. More snowfall for the Hautes Savoie and the Swiss northern alpine ridge and less snowfall for the Austrian resorts. But why? The expectations for the future are based on the present. The weather today (and especially how we map the weather) determines the forecast for tomorrow. Sometimes a sensor is dirty and as a result the model receives incorrect data. Sometimes weather models are not accurate enough and have difficulty with certain weather patterns and sometimes... life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans. I often chose a different destination six hours before departure. As a freerider you have to be flexible and adapt to the given circumstances. But when it all comes together, it was all worth it!