Freezing level rises to 3000 meter!

By meteomorris on 30 November 2015 · 5

Friday was awesome, Saturday brought some freshies and warmer air came in on Sunday. #PA3 was short, intense and you had to watch out for the sharks. But the snow was good, especially when you know that the waiting game has begun. Higher temperatures and sunny weather will rule the Alps again and it's only the beginning of December. It isn't that strange though. It's the second El Niño in a row and it's known that the temperatures on earth are a bit higher than average during El Niño years. In this forecast:

  • Great powder on Friday
  • Higher temperatures are returning
  • The snowpack will settle, but watch out!
  • Hold your horses and save your euros!

Great powder on Friday

'You should have been here yesterday mate'. It's a quote from the film The Endless Summer and it's well-known with most surfers. If you weren't in the Alps on Friday (and Saturday) you simply missed it. Check out these images from Friday!

Chamonix (c)Menno Boermans
Chamonix (c)Menno Boermans

Zwitserland (c)Aimee Kock
Zwitserland (c)Aimee Kock


The forecast was perfect and if you were there you had the time of your life! Especially in Switzerland the base north of the northern alpine ridge was pretty good. The announced higher temperatures came in on Sunday. The snow line rose and the cold fresh powder turned into a combination of concrete and slush. But hey, let's not forget it's only the end of November.

Warm and sunny in the Alps

For the quick reader: the temperatures will rise and they'll remain pretty high this week. The freezing level will go up to 3000 meters and I only expect the temperatures to drop again in the 2nd week of December. Pessimists will say it will be a lousy winter, the optimists will say that it's only the beginning of winter. It will eventually get colder. For the "I-want-to-understand-reader': high pressure settles over the Mediterranean and will settle in the Alps later on. Depressions are driven to the north (snow and rain in Scandinavia), while warm subtropical air flows across south and central Europe. The driving force behind all of this is a high pressure area and the supply of cold air and snow to the Alps will be blocked. A situation that's identical to that of early November. And that lasted about three weeks... It all seems a little less dramatic this time and the maps hint on the return of winter raid between the 10th and the 13th of December.

Depressions will head towards Norway
Depressions will head towards Norway

I do worry about winter in the southern Alps. The high alpine should have a decent base by now (that normally is formed during autumn) and it's almost December. Let's hope for a current from the southwest for the resorts in the south.

The snowpack will settle, but watch out!

The temperatures will rise and it will be sunny. But the warm and humid air will cause some wet snow avalanches the next couple of hours. The good thing about this warm period is that the snowpack can settle in the Northern Alps. The snow is here to stay on north faces and forms a solid base for the rest of the season. But if you want to go touring the next couple of days, than there are three types of avalanches you need to consider:

  • Slab avalanches (on slopes that already had a base)
  • Wet snow avalanches (due to rising temperatures)
  • Glide now avalanches (because in many cases the surface was still warm before the snow arrived)

You can find some avalanche forecasts that will help you to prepare your day. If you don't go to the mountains the next couple of days, now is the time to work on your knowledge. Read one chapter a day in Mountain Academy and be more aware of the risks.

Hold your horses and save your euros

Take it easy. The higher temperatures will affect the snow and there will be a higher avalanche risk. Let the days with warm weather pass ad let's have a look how the snowpack settled on Wednesday or Thursday.

Stay stoked


  • Hummingbird
    Hummingbird op 1 December 2015 · 11:43
    Thank you very much for this forecast, and the rest of them as well. Keep em coming!
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 1 December 2015 · 11:51
    @joikast, you're welcome! In case of any questions don't hesitate to ask them.
    May the powder be with you.
  • joshkoNtr
    joshkoNtr op 2 December 2015 · 15:11
    On Friday 27th in Lech
  • mcfrisk
    mcfrisk op 8 December 2015 · 21:34
    What about the inversion effect? I guess in high pressure times temperatures at higher elevations are higher and cold air is 'trapped' in lower elevations.

    Last weekend sunny high pressure was on. It was around +2 in 2300 meters but in the valleys it stayed on the minus the whole day. That's good for the snow cannons at least, but could also mean that in some shaded valleys at lower elevations there could be decent snow to be found from the dump few weeks ago.
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 9 December 2015 · 15:26
    @mcfrisk you're right.
    May the powder be with you.


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