Snowfall, but also higher temperatures


By meteomorris on 21 January 2016 · 6

It will be a great day today in the Alps (except in the east of Austria) above 1000-1500 meters. Below that altitude you can expect some clouds, so don't be fooled by gray skies in the valleys. It will be a good day to start seaching for powder. Around 2-10 cm, locally even 20 cm of freshies came down between Andermatt and the Dachstein in Austria the last 48 hours. Not much, but sometimes just enough to let the old tracks disappear. The sun will dominate the weather till Friday, but the weekend will bring some fresh snow again, but with higher temperatures. In this forecast:

  • You'll have to search for powder
  • Two sunny days
  • Rising temperatures from the west?
  • Advice for the weekend

You'll have to search for powder

Last week was the best week in the Alps so far. Especially the weekend was really good with deep powder, cold temperatures and a thick base. The live reports and videos that were shared said it all. It was deep! I really hope that you didn't miss last weekend, because next weekend won't be as good.

You'll have to search for powder till the weekend. Basically, you have two options. You can go to the small resorts in the northern Alps, that got some freshies the last couple of days and where it's not as crowded as in the big resorts. Just start searching on this map of Vorarlberg and Tyrol, this map of the Bernese Oberland and Glanerland or this map of ski areas in Salzburg. You can also go out on a tour. There's a good base in the west and north of the Alps to skin up the mountain. Earn your turns! There are plenty of possibilities in both the larger and the smaller resorts. Sometimes a bootpack is enough to reach some untracked freshies, sometimes you'll have to skin up.

Kleinwalsertal this morning
Kleinwalsertal this morning

Andermatt
Andermatt

La Plagne
La Plagne

The stability of the snowpack is still something to think about. Especially the transition from a thick to a thin snow cover and vice versa can cause problems. A weak base layer is present in a lot of places. If you hit that weak layer it can result in a large avalanche. Planning a tour these days therefore requires some basic knowledge. If you don't have that knowledge, go out with a mountain guide. The touring conditions in the French Alps and the complete northern Alps improved a lot the last couple of days and the weather today and tomorrow is perfect. Always check your local avalanche forecast and adapt your plans.

Two sunny days

As I said, we have two sunny days coming up in the northern Alps. There will be even more days with sun coming up in the southern French Alps and Italy. A large high pressure area dominates the weather the next couple of days days and will force depressions to travel north.

Fronts and warm air from the west
Fronts and warm air from the west

The Alps will have to deal with warmer air. A complex interplay of fronts is approaching from the west on Friday. It starts snowing in the French northern Alps in the night from Friday to Saturday. This snowfall will expand to the rest of the northern Alps in the course of Saturday and Sunday. The snow line is initially around 1300 meters in the west and around 700 meters in the east, but will rise towards the 1700 meters in the west and 1200 meters in the east during the weekend.

Expected snowfall on Saturday
Expected snowfall on Saturday

The complete Alps will have to deal with warmer air after Sunday. Fortunately, the moisture is pretty much gone by then. You probably can still find great snow on north faces and in the forests, with the condition that the snow line didn't rise too much on Saturday. With a little luck, Sunday will be something like a powder day in the northern Alps. You can expect 2-10 cm, locally even 20 cm of freshies. More details about that and more advice on Friday.

Rising temperatures from the west?

I hope that the maps of ECMWF turn out to be right. They show cold temperatures and snowfall after the weekend. Let's hope that GFS won't be right. No precipitation and mild temperatures in the Alps. Which one will be right? That's hard to say. The jet stream will shift from the north to south the next couple of days. And this is exactly with which the weather models have lots of trouble. Where exactly will it be cold? And where will it be mild? A shift of a couple of hundred kilometers makes the difference between high and low temperatures. We'll see what will happen the next couple of days. Whatever it will be, next week will be a good week. There's a good base, so you can go out on a tour when the sun will shine or you can ride some powder between the trees when it starts snowing.

I'm hoping that ECMWF will be right and that we can ride between the trees!

Advice for the weekend

The sun will come out in the west on Saturday, but it will still be snowing in the northern Alps. This is my advice for the weekend:

Stay stoked, Morris

Comments


  • sebastianullberg
    sebastianullberg op 21 January 2016 · 12:40
    Hi @meteomorris

    We are traveling from Sweden to the alps for six weeks by motorhome on should be skiing on monday. We are currently in a wild debate on where our first stop should be. We were aiming for Portes du solei / Champery or even heading down to Chamonix. By traveling with a motorhome it gives us a lot of mobility on where to go, but with the higher freezing levels and the overall rising temperatures in the western alps it's very difficult to come to a conclusion. Do you have any recommendations for where to start counting from next week?

    Thanks for a great service btw!

    /Sebastian
  • briannicholas
    briannicholas op 21 January 2016 · 19:35
    I was in Chamonix today on the Brevent side (the opposite side to Mont Blanc). The snow line is down to the town with the very low beginner slopes open, higher up is also fine but well tracked out and could do with a top up. The pistes are in good condition with plenty of snow. I was also in PDS last week, Avoriaz etc and again good snow coverage. If you go to PDS there is camping in Les Gets in the first main car park you come to, there is also lift access straight off the car park. What I like about PDS is shear amount of terrain the PDS pass covers., huge. Chamonix I find is more challenging, steeper reds etc, not sure where the camping is but you can then access the different ski areas with the fee ski bus. If you go to chamonix you have to go to this place for coffee and cake. you won't regret it.

    http://www.petitsgourmands.fr

  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 22 January 2016 · 11:02
    @sebastianullberg, I would start on Monday in the tiny resorts in upper Wallis. Or other inneralpine Valleys. It will stay colder in these valleys and snow will be well preserved. PDS is what we call the pre-alpes and these regions are always affected by warmer air moving in.

    Resorts like Belalp (http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/belalp), Saas Grund and Saas Almagel (http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/saas-fee), Lötschental (http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/lotschental), Bellwald (http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/bellwald) and Rothwald (http://wepowder.com/playgrounds/rothwald) are a good start. Especially treeruns and north faces will stay in good shape.
    May the powder be with you.
  • DWF
    Advanced
    DWF op 22 January 2016 · 13:27
    The Southern Alps i.e Queyras provides nice touring settings but the snow layer is thin. If the forecast is right it looks like we are in for 7-10 days of high pressure with no significant precipitation. On the other side of Col du Lautaret the forecasts is not looking much better for the next 7-10 days. La Grave is closed on higher elevations due to huge slab avalanches and lower parts needs more snow to cover rocks. Its all pretty depressing if one is looking for first tracks.
    DWF
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 22 January 2016 · 15:45
    @DWF, thanks for your update. Queyras is definitely suffering this year. And you're right. No significant snow in the forecast for the moment.
    May the powder be with you.
  • DWF
    Advanced
    DWF op 22 January 2016 · 18:50
    Puy St Vincent reportedly (today) offers some nice beside's resort touring. Will go and have a look and revert back.
    DWF

Reply

You need to be logged in to post a comment in this topic. Login or create an account.

Upgrade to wepowder Pro

  • Extended 14 day forecast
  • Slope angle and exposition terrain layers
  • Inspirational freeride routes
wePowder Pro