It started snowing in the northwest of the Alps last night and around 20-50 cm of fresh snow already came down. But there's more to come. A new storm from the northwest will arrive in the course of Friday. It will snow heavily in the Alps from Friday to Sunday. And as happened before this winter it's accompanied by Föhn, a warm front and wind. But what makes this storm unique is that it remains cold in the Alps on Monday. It's not a storm that ends with high temperatures (like pretty much every storm this winter), but a good old-fashioned storm that ends with cold air. It will snow till Sunday and the sun will come out right after. You can definitely score some great powder! 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:
Wednesday was a pretty warm day. A good time to stretch your legs and drive to the northwest of the Alps. A cold front arrived in the night to Thursday and it started to snow heavily. Around 20-50 centimeters of freshies came down between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday and it will be a powderday above 1500 meters in the northwest of the Alps. You'll also find some fresh snow below that altitude, because the snowline dropped to 1000 meters or lower.
It will keep on snowing the next couple of hours in the French northern Alps, the northwest of Switzerland and the resorts at the border of Austria, Italy and Slovenia.
It will snow heavily especially on the border of Austria, Italy and Slovenia and the snow line will drop during the day.
It will stop snowing in the night to Friday and a Föhn wind might kick in in the northern Alps in the course of Friday. The prelude to a new storm. The Föhn in Switzerland won't last very long, but the Föhn in Austria will be around longer.
Storm Bianca is now situated southwest of Iceland, but will head down to Great Britain within 24 hours. She won't stay there very long, because her intentions lead her to the Alps. The current will be southwest at first and the Alps still have to deal with warm air, but there's cold air approaching from the northwest. It looks like this on a map with the jetstream. The jetstream is the yellow / orange river on the maps below. It's good to realize that the jet stream separates warm air in the south from cold air in the north. If the jetstream lies right above the Alps, the Alps are right at the border of warm air and cold air. So far the theory lesson, now real-life. Friday will be warmer, because the Alps are situates south(east) of the jetstream. Cold air (blue arrow on the map below) arrives in the night to Saturday. The temperatures are still pretty high right of that red river and you'll see a green and a red arrow. The green arrow represents the Stau on the southern side of the Alps. Moist air is forced to rise, it cools down, condenses and it will start snowing. Energy is lost in this process called orographic cooling and the temperature of the air locally drops. On the other side of the highest peaks (in this case north of the main alpine ridge) the air will drop, the clouds dissolve and it becomes warmer. This process is called Föhn (or chinook), represented by the red arrow on the map. The temperatures are higher over here.
You can see that process very well when we look at the temperature at 1400 meters. It's colder (green) at the blue arrow, due to cold air coming down from the north. It's only locally green (a small area) at the green arrow, and this drop in temperature is caused by orographic cooling. When we look at the area north of the Alps, it's locally warmer over there (orange area at the red arrow).
And when you zoom in closer to the Alps, you'll see this:
So, what do you have to do with this information? Well, it will initially snow south of the main alpine ridge, and later a cold front will come in from the northwest bringing cold snow for the northwest of the Alps. Friday will be a mild and sometimes even a sunny day at first, but clouds are approaching from the west. It will start to snow south of the main alpine ridge in the night from Friday to Saturday. Initially in the southern French Alps (around 15-40 cm of freshies above 1800 meters) and the snowfall will extend to areas south of the Monte Rosa, the Gotthard and Piz Bernina on Saturday morning. The snowfall will extend even further to the Dolomites and the area where the borders of Austria, Italy and Slovenia come together. Especially in this last region it will snow heavily, probably even till Monday.
Cold air from the northwest arrives on Saturday morning and as a result the Alps will be sandwhiched. Snow from the south and more snow coming in from the northwest. Saturday will be a day that actually provides the entire Alps with freshies. The focus of the precipitation will be in the western part of the Alps on Saturday, but the center of gravity will move to the east in the night to Sunday. Some more snow will some down in the east on Sunday, but the sun will come out once in a while in the rest of the Alps. It could be cool and sunny in the Alps till Wednesday. It's winter!
Thursday will be a powder day in:
Friday will start sunny, but the snowfall from the west and a temporarily higher snow line will have its effect on the visibility in the west. You'll find the best conditions on Friday in:
Fresh snow will come down in the west and the southern Alps on Saturday. You'll find the best conditions on Saturday in:
The snowfall will move to the east on Saturday and in the night to Sunday. You'll find the best conditions on Sunday in:
And the conditions will still be good in:
The sun will come out on Monday. You'll find plenty of (untracked) powder in:
The powderchase this weekend:
Any questions? Drop them in the comments! Next update will be on Sunday. If you want to book your accommodation: support wePowder and use this link.
Stay stoked! Morris