PA#4: 2016 starts with lots of snow for the Alps!

By meteomorris on 1 January 2016 · 0

Have a great 2016 with lots of powder! The storms Gerd and Helmut will make sure that the snow will start falling in the Alps. The next 72 hours they will bring winter back to the Alps. Up to 150 centimeters of freshies can be expected on the highest peaks in France and the tenmperatures will remain low till Thursday. The temperatures will rise after Thursday and the weather gets a bit more turbulent. You can ride great powder till Thursday morning. Where? Check it out below. In this forecast:

  • Looking back: 2-10 cm of freshies
  • Short term: It will start snowing tonight (Friday night)
  • Three dumps till Thursday. Where to go?
  • The temperature will rise on Friday

Looking back: 2-10 cm of freshies

Around 2-10 cm of fresh snow came down in the northwest of the Alps since Thursday afternoon. It was only a dusting, but it definitely improved the conditions already. It's the start of a period with much more snowfall!

Some snow in Engelberg
Some snow in Engelberg

A bit more in Lech
A bit more in Lech

Freshies in Damüls
Freshies in Damüls

It will start snowing tonight (Friday night)

The Alps will change in the next couple of days. From brown and green to white again. Storm depressions are getting ready and will reach the Alps in the beginning of the evening. Storms Gerd and Helmut are heading for the Alps and there won't be a high pressure area to stop them! Almost 60 days without precipitation (with just one storm at the end of November) will come to an end.

The storms are on their way
The storms are on their way

The French Alps and the west of Switzerland will get hammered with 90-150 cm of freshies, but also the rest of the Alps will get some snow. The next few days I expect the most snow in the northern French Alps, the west and north of the French Ecrins, the west of Wallis, the resorts in the Bernese Oberland and last but not least the Austrian Vorarlberg. Check our snow cards for all the details. And I even expect that the Vorarlberg and Kleinwalsertal will even get more snow than visible on the snow maps.

Three dumps till Thursday. Where to go?

The cycle of the three dumps has begun. The details didn't change, so you can read all about it in the previous forecast. I'll give you some advice on where to find the best powder today. It concerns the following regions:

  • Isère and Savoie (check the details):
    Val Thorens, Tignes and parts of Paradiski already have something that looks like a base above 2,200 meters. They will get lots of snow the next couple of days.

  • Haute Savoie and the west of Wallis (check the details):
    The resorts are at a lower elevation and are often lacking a base. Northern slopes with some grass will be quite okay on Monday. Wait for the sun to come out and you'll find some great powder. The Quatre Vallées already has a base higher up.

  • Berner Oberland (check the details):
    The base is quite okay above 2,000 meters, and with the new snow coming the riding will be good! The sun will come out every now and then on Sunday with around 10-25 cm of freshies. It will snow again from Monday. Especially the resorts in the west of this region will get the most snow, but I expect some good conditions in Engelberg as well.

  • Vorarlberg and Kleinwalsertal (check the details):
    The base is limited here, but there are lots of alpine meadows that don't need that much snow. I expect more snow is this region than indicated on our snow maps and Monday to Wednesday will be good powder days. The sun will come out on Sunday once in a while. The most snow will come down west of the Arlberg tunnel, but Ischgl already has a good base and you can definitely ride some great powder there as well.

The temperature will rise on Friday

The period in which we can ride cold fresh powder is only short. The jetstream will move to the north on Thursday, causing higher temperatures and a rising snow line (2000 meters in the French Alps). Fortunately, there will be enough cold in the inner alpine valleys to mitigate the effects of this increase, but the result is that the weather will get more turbulent from Thursday, because not only the wind fluctuates continuously in strength and direction, but also the temperature. That seems to be the strongest in the French Alps and won't have that much effect in Austria. The final details may still change and maybe it is not all that bad, but keep it in mind.

Lots of snow = avalanche danger

Fresh snow on an old snow layer leads to an increase of the avalanche danger. Many avalanche services didn't have a lot to do the last couple of weeks, but will have plenty of work to do shortly. If there is more news I will share it with you. But keep the following in mind: in many places the snow either turned into some kind of sugar and forms the perfect weak layer. Just imagine what kind of risk increased when a lot of freshies fall on top. It's different for the resorts that don't even have a base. The sharks are still close to the surface, waiting to grab a piece out of your P-tex. Consider carefully what you do and where you don't want to ride and don't go full throttle. Do you want to get more knowledge about snow safety? Start with the Mountain Academy and be more aware of the risks.

Stay stoked, Morris


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