More than 1 meter of snow for the northwest of the Alps

By meteomorris on 29 December 2015 · 8

The Big Change is here. It will start snowing. Redemption is here. Winter is here. Let's get this party started!! The Alps are on the verge of a turbulent week with lots of snow, wind, Föhn winds, Stau and a fluctuating snow line. But whatever happens, one thing is certain: the northern French Alps and western Switzerland will locally get more than one meter of freshies by the end of next week. In this forecast:

  • Three dumps coming up
  • Short term: French northern Alps
  • From PowderWatch to where to go? How does it work?

Three dumps coming up!

It will be a turbulent week with at least three dumps that will bring snow to the Alps. That looks like this:

Dump 1
Dump 1

The first dump

  • Snow will approach from the northwest on Thursday, December 31st. It starts snowing in the French Savoie and Isère during the afternoon, and not much later also in the Haute Savoie and Valais. The snowfall extends to the north of Switzerland and western Austria in the evening.
  • The sun will come out in the west on the first of Janurary, but it's still snowing in the east of Austria and the west of Switzerland in the morning.
  • The first day of 2016 will be a powder day in: Isère and Savoie, Haute Savoie and Wallis, Berner Oberland and the east of Switzerland + the west of Austria. Expect around 7-20 cm of freshies. Not a PowderAlert, but you can ride some freshies. You can find some more snow in bowls. You can find more details about the first dump here. I am a little more optimistic and think that the stau regions of the Belledone, Mont Blanc, Eiger and Vorarlberg will get more snow than is visible on the maps. The north and west of the French Hautes Alpes and the east of Austria will also get some snow, but because there is no base there it's quite hard to ride powder on the first of January.

Dump 2
Dump 2

The second dump

The second dump will bring 25-50 centimeter of freshies above 2000 meter.

  • An active front will reach the Alps from the southwest on Friday, January 1st and this front will finally bring significant snowfall towards the French southern Alps. With the arrival of the warm front, the snowline will rise towards 1800 meters, but drops towards the 1200-1400 meter on Saturday.
  • It will start snowing again in the French northern Alps, western Switzerland and even parts of the southern Alps on Saturday, January 2nd. It will be a tough day with poor visibility. You'd better stay on the slopes to ride powder on Saturday, because the visibilty is too bad and the base is too thin to ride off-piste. You can expect around 25-50 centimeters of freshies in the French Alps and western Switzerland above 2000 meters altitude between Friday and Sunday morning. You'll find more details about the second dump here.
  • Sunday (January 3rd) might be a great day to enjoy some powder in the west of the Alps. The sun will come out once in a while and you can ride some great powder in the French northern Alps and western Switzerland. A new front with cold air from the west is coming in in the afternoon. The regions you should keep an eye on are: Isère and Savoie, Haute Savoie and Valais and the Bernese Oberland

Dump 3
Dump 3

The third dump

The third dump is starting with cold temperatures, but the temperatures will start shifting.

  • It's difficult to see the third dump on our snow maps. Only the left overs of the second dump and the start of the third dump is visible on the maps. But there are some uncertainties about this third dump. I'm sure that there will be some intense snowfall, but the snow line and the exact position of the dump is not yet certain.
  • It really gets interesting after Sunday night. There is plenty of snow on the maps for Sunday and the days after, but only a small shift in the jet stream and the pressure division can push the snow line a bit higher than expected. For now I'm expecting a mix of warm and cold fronts, with most snowfall for the French Alps, the west of Switzerland and Vorarlberg. You won't be able to ride between the trees, but the snow pack above the tree line will grow significantly, especially in the western Alps. I'd wait to book my powder trip (check out these 10 tips).

Short term: French northern Alps

Personally, I would wait to book until the maps provide more clarity, but if you can not wait, then the current top 10 list gives you some. It's snowing and there already is a thin base. The conditions in the northwest are going to improve significantly in the next 10 days. You can definitely ride some great powder above the tree line, but I would wait to pick the best resorts.

From PowderWatch to where to go? How does it work?

You should have been here yesterday mate. Nothing more painful than to be at the wrong time in the wrong place in the Alps. This is how we help you to be in the right place at the right time!

  1. It starts with a Powder Watch (it will definitely snow, but it is still not sure where to find the best conditions)
  2. A PowderAlert will follow (the regions are sure, the details not yet)
  3. Where to go (more fine tuning tips and this is the moment to book your accommodation)

This is step 1. There is a lot of snow coming up, but the context (as in: the lack of snow and the uncertainties) makes it too early to say exactly where to go right now. You can only find something of a base in the northern French Alps, the Swiss region of Valais, the Bernese Oberland, Vorarlberg and western Tyrol. But keep in mind that this base transformed into sugar snow on steep north faces! Be sure to ride safe. Check out Mountain Academy to work on your knowledge!

But the best thing is: winter is BACK!

Stay stoked, Morris


  • Phlo
    Phlo op 29 December 2015 · 11:39
    bummer for the northern alps
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 29 December 2015 · 12:21
    @Phlo, they will get some. Especially Switzerland and the western part of Austria.
    May the powder be with you.
  • andasj
    andasj op 29 December 2015 · 13:29
    Great news Morris! So I guess my trip to Val Thorens and the three valleys in week 3, that was booked months ago, is like winning on the lottery 😃
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 30 December 2015 · 08:52
    @andasj, yes. The next few days Val Thorens may expect a huge amount of fresh snow. So you don't have te be afraid for a lack of base. But if there will be a huge dump during or just before your stay is hard to say at the moment 😉
    May the powder be with you.
  • NicoT
    NicoT op 30 December 2015 · 11:06
    Hello Morris, I read that el nino usually bring warmer temperatures but more precipitation in the Alps. Even if winter takes his time to come, could we still expect to have a good winter with some nice powder days?
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 30 December 2015 · 13:38
    @NicoT where did you read this? There is no scientific proof for this. El Niño does bring warmer temperatures on a global scale, but there is no proof that this is the case for the Alps during every El Niño. Regarding precipitation read also:
    May the powder be with you.
  • NicoT
    NicoT op 30 December 2015 · 14:55
    Thank you Morris for your comment
  • claudioheidelschemberger
    claudioheidelschemberger op 30 December 2015 · 21:33
    Time to use and share km of ski and snowboard with friends and family.


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