Three dumps on their way, but the temperature will rise later


By meteomorris on 3 January 2016 · 16

Yes! Around 15-40 cm of freshies came down the last 36 hours and it will start snowing again in the French Alps on Sunday night. It is the prelude to three days of snowfall (and some sunshine once in a while). We just have to hope that the announced rise of temperature won't be that string. But we can definitely ride some powder till that time. In this forecast:

  • Looking back: 15-40 cm of freshies
  • Short term: 3 dumps bring 100 cm of freshies (with some sunshine as well)
  • Tips where to ride the best powder the next couple of days
  • Long term: turbulent and shifting snow line
  • Predict the snowpack and win an avalanche set!

Looking back: 15-40 cm of freshies

I love it when science helps you through the dark days of December and that a plan comes together in the end. I announced that we could expect snowfall again at start of 2016 on the 20th of December. That wasn't based on the weather maps, because they offered little hope, but I used of recent data from scientific research. It took me many hours of research, reading and checking, but it was not in vain. The snow did come down at the start of 2016!

The first snow of the week came down yesterday. Around 15-40 of freshies came down in the northwest of the Alps in 36 hours. Initially this was still rain up to 1800 meters altitude, but when the cold front came in the snow line dropped rapidly towards the 700 meters. And that resulted in the beautiful pictures below. Check out more images in this article.

Sölden
Sölden

Sulda
Sulda

Most snow came down in the French Savoie and Isère (Paradiski, Tignes, Val Thorens, Alpe d'Huez), around the Mont Blanc (Chamonix), the west of Valais (Les Marécottes, Ovronnaz), around Engelberg and St. Moritz, around the Swiss Säntis, Vorarlberg and the Kleinwalsertal. It also snowed around the Italian Ortler. The remaining areas got less snow.

Short term: 3 dumps bring 100 cm of freshies (with some sunshine as well)

It's sunny today, but there the next snow is just waiting to come down. You can already see some high clouds in France at the moment. It's the prelude to the next snowfall. It will start snowing in the French Alps, but it will extend into the northern Alps later.

High clouds visible in La Plagne
High clouds visible in La Plagne

It won't stop snowing the next couple of days. And in some regions we're expecting so much snow that the snow maps are showing some black spots, like in Chamonix. Black spots on the snow maps mean over 200 centimeters of snow. But this is just in the high alpine (like the Aiguille du Midi) and the snowfall will be accompanied with heavy winds.

Black spots on the snow maps are good to fire up the stoke, but UIAGM mountain guide Roeland Van Oss based in Chamomix told us that much more snow is needed. The Vallée Blanche is a maze with lare crevasses and is quite a challenge at the bottom. The fixed ropes on the ridge from the Aguille du Midi aren't there yet as well. Lots of open crevasses are still visible on Les Grands Montets and there are many rocks on the lower parts of the mountain. The same challenges are to be found on the Courmayeur side. There is a rope required to reach the Toula glacier, because the glacier became smaller during summer and autums. You should ride out of bounds as if it's still early season with the early season hazards. A thin snow cover, lots of rocks, lots of crevasses on the glaciers and a very weak base layer. Forget about runs in the trees. Add the rapidly changing weather, strong winds and the increasing avalanche danger in the coming days and you'll know it's not picture perfect yet.

But hey, you definitely can ride powder! There's some good powder to be found in some bowl and the alpine meadows are improving evert day. You can ride powder, but ride smart. And especially during the few sunny spells. There is some room for the sun in the French Alps on Monday afternoon and in the northern Alps on Tuesday afternoon. Even Wednesday afternoon could be nice. It will snow in the French Alps and the northern Alps the remaining moments. Have a look at our snow maps for details about the snowfall. You can find even more details on the destination pages, for example the one about La Plagne, where there is a meter of fresh snow forecasted for the Roche de Mio.

Tips where to ride the best powder the next couple of days

The most snow will come down between Grenoble and the Arlberg tunnel the next couple of days. The western glaciers of Austria (Kaunertal, Pitztal, Sölden) will also get their share later this week. You'll also find the best base in these resorts. My tips below:

  • Isère and Savoie (check the details):
    Especially Val Thorens, Tignes and parts of Paradiski have a decent base above 2200 meters. More freshies will come down tonight and conditions will improve.

  • Haute Savoie and the west of Wallis (check the details):
    The resorts in this region often lack a base. The northern slopes with some grass will be quite good on Monday. Wait for the moment the sun will come out and you'll find some good snow. The conditions on La Balme (La Clusaz) are pretty good, and also the higher parts of Verbier are okay.

  • Berner Oberland (check the details):
    You'll find a decent base above 2,000 meters, and with the new snow coming the conditions will improve even further. It will be partly cloudy on Sunday with 10-25 cm of freshies. It will continuously snow right after. I'm mainly talking about the resorts in the west of the region. Think of Engelberg, Hasliberg etc.

  • Vorarlberg and Kleinwalsertal (check the details):
    The base is a bit thicker and you'll find lots of alpine meadows here. I expected more snow there than our snow maps indicated and I was right. And from Monday to Thursday I also expect more snow than forecasted on the snow maps.

Long term: turbulent and shifting snow line

GFS is more positive this afternoon, and the higher temperatures are postponed a bit. It remains cold enough till Thursday and it will snow with (a fluctuating snow line) above 1700 to 2000 meters in the French Alps and 1200 to 1600 meters in Vorarlberg in the weekend. At lower altitude you can expect a mix of snow, wet snow and rain. More details tomorrow, but I'm quite positive.

Predict the snowpack and win an avalanche set!

How thick do you think the snowpack will be at the measure station on the Titlis in Engelberg on January 29th at 12.00? If you guessed it right, our friends from Bergzeit will send you a complete Avalanchet set: an Ortovox 3+ beacon, a Beast Shovel and a 240 Light PFA probe. Check out this article and leave you're prediction in the comments in this article!

Stay stoked
Morris

Comments


  • Vuccu
    Advanced
    Vuccu op 3 January 2016 · 16:19
    @meteomorris where do you think i'll could find the best condition on Tuesday in arberg? Thank you for your support in this turbolent season start!
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 3 January 2016 · 16:28
    @Vuccu probably in Lech or around Zürs. Check also our detailed maps of the Arlberg: http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/sankt-anton

    This way you can compare the several peaks and their surroundings.
    May the powder be with you.
  • camillaandersen
    Advanced
    camillaandersen op 3 January 2016 · 20:11
    Thank you so much for a super informative site! As probably all other skiers, we really want to be at the right place at the right time, hopefully in January. We have a budget for about 4 weeks of skiing in Europe, 2 weeks in Japan or 2-3 weeks of skiing in Canada/USA. Where do you think we will we get the most snow? We are prepared to leave within a week or on very short notice. We will be able to change destinations within the continents in the time period. It´s snowing in Europe now, but what will it look like in two weeks? The poor base and the unstable temperature in Europe makes us a bit uncertain. Where would you go? 😃
  • AdamStekl
    Advanced
    AdamStekl op 3 January 2016 · 20:33
    @meteomorris
    Morris, I want to pay tribute to your forecasting abilities. I am always looking forward to your articles like little kid. I hope your positive feeling for the low temperatures will be right beacuse I can go to the alps earliest on Saturday morning. Also because my beloved homeland hills in Czech are not higher than 1400 m.a.s.l. and the two last winters were desperate.
    May your passion for forecasting last long long time. Thanks!
    Adam
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 3 January 2016 · 21:39
    @AdamStekl Thank you. Where exactly are you going to?
    May the powder be with you.
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 3 January 2016 · 21:47
    @camillaandersen Hokkaido Japan is always a safe bet in January. I would go there with this bad winter start in Europe.

    Read also:
    1. Japan on a budget: http://wepowder.com/forum/topic/211334
    2. The best snow in Japan: http://wepowder.com/forum/topic/211597
    3. And yes go for Hokkaido: http://wepowder.com/forum/topic/214043

    No, it will never be really steep but yes.. there will be powder (normally 😉)...

    Check also our friends from snowjapan: http://www.snowjapan.com/
    May the powder be with you.
  • camillaandersen
    Advanced
    camillaandersen op 3 January 2016 · 22:44
    @meteomorris Thank you so much for your great advices, I really appreciate all the knowledge you share with the rest of us!! 😃
  • semca
    Advanced
    semca op 4 January 2016 · 10:34
    Hi Morris, thanks so much for your awesome forecasts. I have pretty much the same question as @AdamStekl. I won´t be able to get to the Alps before friday so I want to ask if you think it will be worth it. What Im afraid of is the wind and rising temperatures. I was thinking of going to Vorarlberg or Engelberg.
    Thanks
    Michal
  • DWF
    Advanced
    DWF op 4 January 2016 · 13:54
    Currently Sapporo Kokusai has delivered the best skiing, out of Tiene and Niseko. I base this on the last 3 days of skiing in 3 different resorts in as many days. But its medioker conditions right now. But if you break some rules you will find good skiing....
    DWF
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 4 January 2016 · 18:40
    @DWF, thanks. Keep us posted!
    @semca how long are you going?
    May the powder be with you.
  • semca
    Advanced
    semca op 4 January 2016 · 18:48
    @meteomorris we plan to stay there till sunday, so three days.
  • AdamStekl
    Advanced
    AdamStekl op 4 January 2016 · 20:22
    @meteomorris
    We plan to go to Austria-Vorarlberg region. Saturday transport, sunday-tuesday skiing. We are still in doubt whether to go touring to some Hutte or to the resort (skipass prices now are lower than in peak season and from Monday there could be less people in the resort, I was particularly thinking about Kleinwalsertal or Montafon).
    I hope it will be reasonably cold after Thursday.
    What do you think is the best option? Don't you know about some nice Hutten in Vorarlberg with good terrain?
    Thanks a lot
    Adam
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 4 January 2016 · 21:10
    @Semca, I would go to Vorarlberg. Stuben and Lech will be good options, but maybe Ischgl will get more on Sunday. Although the maps are shifting a bit.

    @AdamStekl Touring is still a bit tricky. Loads of wind and shifting snowlevels make it though. I would suggest some resort skiing. Kleinwalsertal is nice but doesn't go that high. I think around Stuben will be great. Sonnenkopf is a nice alternative when it doesn't get to warm. Montafon is nice but lower. In case the flow turns south, than Pitztal, Ischgl/Samnaun and Hochgurgl might be some good alternatives.

    I hope to give you a better advice around wednesday/thursday. Although the ones I suggested are doing well at the moment.
    May the powder be with you.
  • DWF
    Advanced
    DWF op 5 January 2016 · 13:24
    Niseko (Japan) was epic today but windy so aspect management was key for good snow. Its still snowing so tomorrow looks like it can be a top day.
    DWF
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 5 January 2016 · 13:26
    @DWF, thank you. How long are you staying?
    May the powder be with you.
  • semca
    Advanced
    semca op 5 January 2016 · 16:33
    @meteomorris thanks for advice, we'll propably try warth-lech.

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