PowderAlert #11: Lots of snow for the western Alps


By meteomorris on 29 February 2016 · 2

What a weekend! Heavy snowfall on the southern side of the Alps with locally even up to 170 centimeters of freshies in the Italian Piedmont. Lots of lifts didn't even open and some roads were closed because of the avalanche danger. The announced warmer front that caused the snow line to rise followed on Sunday, but I have to say that the forecast from Friday was correct. Just check out all the amazing reports of deep powder! You can start moving to the northwest of the Alps, but we have to deal with some higher temperatures over there at first. If you are traveling to the Alps the next couple of days and you want to support wePowder and this forecast, book your accommodation using this link. We receive a small percentage of every booking made through this link and this helps us a lot to improve wePowder and advice you even better. Thanks in advance! In this forecast:

  • Update on the forecast page
  • Up to 170 cm of freshies in the southern Alps the last couple of days
  • Colder in the north, warmer in the south
  • PowderAdvice for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Update on the forecast page

We've done a major update on the forecast page today. You used to see the expected snowfall at the top, but we've added the expected snowfall at 2000 meters altitude? Why? Well, this update makes the list more honest and helps you to make a better choice of where to ride. You don't stay on the top all the time and the altitude of 2000 meters works well for a lot of resorts in the Alps. If you even want more detailed information about the expected snow, you can always check out the resort pages (check out for example Chamonix, Zermatt or Verbier and click on 'show all measuring points' below the map).

Up to 170 cm of freshies in the southern Alps the last couple of days

It snowed heavily the last 24 hours, and most impressive was the snowfall in Limone Piemonte. Over 170 centimeters of freshies came down! But it also snowed heavily in other regions in the southern Alps. On average, between 40-70 centimeters came down at 1800 meters altitude, but I've also seen a lot or reports with over 100 cm of fresh snow.

Limone Piemonte: from 21 to 193 cm of snow
Limone Piemonte: from 21 to 193 cm of snow

Dolomites: from 68 to 158 cm of snow
Dolomites: from 68 to 158 cm of snow

The south of Switzerland
The south of Switzerland

Just have a look at the images. It is almost impossible to imagine that some resorts almost didn't have any snow a week ago.

Zermatt
Zermatt

Prali
Prali

Sestrière
Sestrière

But lots of snow also means an increase in avalanche danger. In didn't snow for a long time in most of the resorts and the fresh snow fell on old layer of sugar snow. And if you have any knowledge about snow safety, you'll know that's a weak foundation. For the first time this winter we saw the avalanche danger locally rise to 5 (on a scale of 5)!

Locally VERY HIGH avalanche danger
Locally VERY HIGH avalanche danger

A meter of fresh snow on a weak foundation and rising temperatures are the perfect ingredients for a cocktail called 'Trouble'. Roads were closed and a lots of lifts didn't open because of the high avalanche danger. You could definitely ride some powder, but it was short and intense. I already wrote on Sunday that the temperatures would rise in the southern Alps on Monday and that this storm would end like a lot of storms: warmer than it began.

Warm air in the south, cold air in the northwest
Warm air in the south, cold air in the northwest

Colder in the north, warmer in the south

The temperatures are rising in the Alps thanks to storm Zissi, that's moving to the northeast. Warm air is coming in from the south and the current turned from south to northeast and this causes the air on the south side of the Alps to warm up even more. You can see that on the map above. The blue arrow is the cold air, the orange arrow warm air. But you can see it even better at the map below, where you'll see the temperature at 1400 meters.

Green is cold, yellow is (too) warm
Green is cold, yellow is (too) warm

And so things are warming up on the south side of the Alps, while it is getting colder in the north. Clouds comes into being where the warm and cold air meet. These clouds are sent to the north side of the Alps with the cold current from the northeast and are forced to drop their snow over there.

Snow on the north side of the Alps
Snow on the north side of the Alps

That process is now slowly starting and it starts snowing during the afternoon. It will continue to snow until Tuesday morning and after that the sun will come out on Tuesday afternoon. Expect around 20-35 centimeters of freshies above 1500 meters in the Austrian Vorarlberg, Kleinwalsertal and the Bernese Oberland till Tuesday morning. It will be just enough not to feel the hard base layer anymore. Fortunately, it remains cold on Tuesday, but the Alps will be in some kind of weather transition on Wednesday. Cold air is on its way to the Alps, but the temperatures will rise on Wednesday and you'll see some residual clouds. Just hang in there, because cold and humid air will hit the Alps in the night to Thursday. The northern Alps will get some snow at first, but the snowfall will expand into the other regions of the Alps later. It could be that there will be a lot of snowfall on the border of Italy, Austria and Slovenia.

Jetstream westnorthwest again
Jetstream westnorthwest again

The weather will come from the west till Saturday and it will snow regularly in the French Alps and the northwest of the Alps. And after that? Well, the models don't really tell yet. But chances are that it stays cold, that there will be a northern component in the current and that we'll see regular snowfall in the north(west) of the Alps.

PowderAdvice for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

The temperatures are slowly rising on the south side, but there will also be some room for the sun. The PowderAdvice for Monday:

Fresh snow will come down on the north side of the Alps and the sun will shine on the south side on Tuesday. North faces that are protected by the shade will good on Tuesday, but be careful with steep passages. The old weak layer is not too deep. Meanwhile, you can ride more powder in the northwest. The tips are:

Freshies in:

North faces in:

Wednesday will be a day where the weather will change. The morning will be cold, with snow coming in from the north during the day. It will keep on snowing on Thursday. Wednesday will be a good day to stretch your legs, to relax and read my forecast so you know where you need to be on Thursday. If you want to book your accommodation: support wePowder and use this link.

Stay stoked! Morris

Comments


  • briannicholas
    briannicholas op 29 February 2016 · 16:43
    Hey Morris what do you think of Saas Fee on Tuesday? Cheers Brian
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 29 February 2016 · 22:36
    @briannicholas Windy and some sunny spots
    May the powder be with you.

Reply

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