Snow for the northern and southern Alps!

By meteomorris on 7 January 2016 · 9

It's dumping again like crazy in the western Alps and the snowfall will expand towards the Arlberg in the course of the day. The snow line is at pretty low altitude at the moment, but it's already rising in the pre-Alps. check out the live report. There's room for the sun on Friday, but the weather will become turbulent again right after. The western, northwestern and southern Alps will get the most snow till Monday. Less snow will come down in Austria east of the Arlberg, but those resorts will get some freshies as well. If it will be a large northern Stau is still a question, but hey, there's more snow coming! And yes, you read that right: the first real southern Stau of this winter is in the making. In this forecast:

  • Snow line between 650 and 2000 meters
  • Tips for the weekend
  • A week with turbulent weather lies ahead of us
  • The first southern Stau of the winter
  • First indications for a northern Stau visible on the maps!

Snow line between 650 and 2000 meters

I explained to you in yesterday's forecast that there are large differences in the altitude of the snow line. That varies from valley to valley. Broadly speaking, the following applies with regard to the snow line for today and Friday:

  • French Alps: pre-Alps 1700-2100 meter, narrow valleys in the heart of the Alps 800-1500 meter, open valleys in the heart of the Alps 1400-1950 meter.
  • Switzerland: pre-Alps 1300-1800 meter, narrow valleys in the heart of the Alps 650 to 1200-1500 meter, open valleys in the heart of the Alps 1100-1900 meter
  • West of Austria: pre-Alps 1200-1900 meter, narrow valleys in the heart of the Alps 650-1400 meter.

We'll keep an eye on the snow line in this live blog.

Intense snow fall in Val d'Isère
Intense snow fall in Val d'Isère

Tips for the weekend

The weather this weekend will be even more turbulent than the maps indicated earlier. It will therefore be difficult to find good spots to ride powder with some visibility (preferably some trees for some orientation), but where the snow line didn't rise that much. Saturday starts with mild temperatures everywhere and precipitation will come down in the west and it will expand into the southern Alps. The precipitation will cross the main alpine ridge on Sunday and it will start snowing in the northwest and north of the Alps as well.

You'll find the best conditions this weekend in resorts above 1600-1800 meters in:

It will also be quite good in resorts above 1800 meters in:

You can find larch trees and something of a base in Courmayeur, Ovronnaz, Les 4 Vallées, Rothwald, Val d'Isère, Val Cenis, Puy St. Vincent, Serre Chevalier, Chamonix, etc. But this definitely won't be an epic weekend. If you find it difficult to choose and you don't have infinite amounts of money (and time), then I would wait.

A week with turbulent weather lies ahead of us

Not only the weekend, but also the start of the new week won't be that smooth. A strong southern Stau (bringing snow to the Southern Alps) will start its engines. This front is strong enough to reach the glacier resorts north of the main Alpine ridge as well. The current will turn to the north later and than we can speak the magical word: Nordstau (bringing snow to the northern Alps). The indications for the first northern Stau of this season are getting stronger and stronger. In short: after some days with higher temperatures, the temperature will drop again. There is initially heavy snow fall above 1800-2000 meters and it will snow deeper into the valleys later, covering large parts of the Alps with the fluffy white stuff. Does that sounds like a plan or what?

If you really want to ride powder, than I would block the days from Tuesday. It good become epic.

The first southern Stau of the winter

Things can still change in the next couple of days regarding details and timing, but you definitely can expect a southern Stau to kick in on Monday. I personally expect more snow fall than visible on our maps right now.

Snow for the southern Alps
Snow for the southern Alps

Snow forecast for Monday
Snow forecast for Monday

First indications for a northern Stau visible on the maps!

Even more things (as in details and timing and amounts of snow) can still change regaring the northern Stau, but the first indications are visible on our maps on Tuesday. It's not super intense yet, and there's still a bit of problem in the south, but hey, it's better than nothing!

Will a northern Stau hit the Alps?
Will a northern Stau hit the Alps?

Stay stoked, Morris


  • Benja
    Benja op 7 January 2016 · 16:41
    This sounds amazing! I just booked a trip to Chamonix the 14th! : )
  • mseymour74
    mseymour74 op 7 January 2016 · 17:28
    Excellent. Thanks for your awesome site and updates... I have Mon-Weds free next week and am thinking it is defo. the time to go now (in and out from London on Sun evening and back Weds evening late) - I assume Chamonix would be the best bet, even though possibly very busy? it looks like the snow base is nwo really good already and that a good guide could find some great tree skiing given the likely low visibility? Do you know if the areas other than Les Grands Montets are also open and have good cover now too e.g. trees in Les Houches? Any help much appreciated!
  • hansmal
    hansmal op 7 January 2016 · 18:03
    @meteomorris - We are 2 persons arriving Geneva tomorrow evening and we have a rental car. Will stay for 1 week. We are ready to move once or twice during this week, but where should we start? With the heavy snowfall we should look for tree skiing and I also understand we should look for low freeze level due to high temp's this weekend. Val D'isere? Flaine in Le Grand Massif? Maybe somewhere strategic in case we need to move if the wind gets too strong around Monday? Planning to do the booking tonight.
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 7 January 2016 · 19:16
    @hansmal, Flaine is a no go for the moment. To warm. Courmayeur and Val d'Isere are a good start. Compared to the other resorts it stayed way cooler over there (colder air in narrow valley + southwestern flow and blocking effect of huge mountains around). I would say Courmayeur as a start and stay there untill Monday. As of Tuesday there is a chance that I will guide you back west (Chamonix or another resort)

    @mseymour74 I would start in Chamonix. Monday might be a bit though but temperatures and snowlevels are expected to drop during the day and there is a lot of snow expected. Treerun galore. Regarding the other areas: they are open. Keep in mind that there was no base last week, but the base has grown fast the last days.

    Does this help?
    May the powder be with you.
  • yotsit
    yotsit op 8 January 2016 · 09:32
    What do you think would be the best choice in the french/rodan area for beginner from wednsday to friday? (we already go offpiste often, we have our avalanche kit and we had training course to use it, but we know we have a long way ahead of us 😉 )
  • freshiesCrew
    freshiesCrew op 8 January 2016 · 10:54
    hey morris. rothwald definately has no snow base, i think they opened the lift just a few days ago. they get the most snow from the south, so it was green for a along time!

    i'm in the eastern part of valais, which looks amazing at the moment! no rain yesterday and up to 35cm of fresh pow yesterday. and i think here we stay below 0° for tomorrow aswell!

    ride on guys! but just in the trees 😃
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 8 January 2016 · 11:15
    @freshiesCrew thanks for sharing!
    @yotsit You should look for smaller resorts with less powder stress. What do you mean with 'Rodan' area?
    May the powder be with you.
  • yotsit
    yotsit op 8 January 2016 · 11:45
    I'm from Italy, I can be at chamonix in less than 3 hour for example but I can drive more... Chamonix seems great but I think it could be too much for us right now
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 8 January 2016 · 11:48
    @yotsit Italy is getting some as of this weekend.
    La Thuile might be a good option. Treeruns on the Italian side and open runs on the French side of the border.
    May the powder be with you.


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