PowderAlert #13: Snow, wind and a snowline yo-yo


By meteomorris on 23 March 2016 · 0

And there it is: PowderAlert #13. There will be quite a lot of snowfall, but some warnings are in place. There will be some heavy winds, sometimes during snowfall, but also right after the snowfall. The temperature will start shifting and the snowline will go up and down. One day it will feel like winter, the next day it will be pretty warm. Not the perfect set-up for the weekend, but we can definitely ride some powder. Check out the outlines till Tuesday below. I'll post another update tomorrow and than it's time to start powder hunting. 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:

  • This PowderAlert will be a threesome: snow from the north, the southwest and the northwest
  • Step 1: Snow for the north
  • Step 2: Snow for the southwest and Föhn for the north
  • Step 3: Snow for the northwest
  • PowderAdvice: Roadtrip!

This PowderAlert will be a threesome: snow from the north, the southwest and the northwest

It's quite a mess in the atmosphere. There's a battle going on between winter and spring. There's plenty of cold polar air available, but the days are getting longer and the influence of the sun is increasing. It is this time of the year which regularly results in unexpected surprises in the Alps. Big dumps are interspersed with sunny and mild days and that's exactly what's about to happen. The window to score powder is becoming shorter. The position of the sun is already much higher than in early January and it radiates directly into the snowcover. Fresh fallen snow that's still cold and loose in the morning can transform into slush due to the sun in an hour. Good planning is more necessary than ever to not miss the white gold at this time of the year. Exceptions are the steep shaded northern slopes where the sun doesn't have that much influence. But shaded and steep also means a conserved avalanche danger and you need the right knowledge to safely ride this kind of slopes. Especially when you pick lines that haven't been ridden much this year.

Back to the turbulence in the atmosphere. We have to deal with a classic threesome. First we're going to get cold air and snow from the north, followed by snow for the southwest and Föhn for the northern Alps (thanks to a storm from the west and a current that's turning to the southwest) and the third step will follow after Monday: snow for the northwest with chances on a retour d'est. The will result in wind from different directions, snow in a lot of different parts in the Alps and a snowline yo-yo.

Step 1: Snow for the north

It will snow between Wednesday and Thursday in the northeast. The temperatures will be quite low. The sun will come out by the end of Thursday, but a new front will arrive in the course of Friday. This time for the entire northern Alps. The problem with this second front is that the temperatures will rise. The snowline will rise to 1200-1800 meters during Friday afternoon. Saturday will be sunny, but pretty warm on the north side of the Alps.

If you want to take advantage of this first step, you'd better head to the resorts at higher altitude in Austria. Especially the resorts east of Innsbruck will get the most snow. You can ride powder on the Kitzsteinhorn on Thursday and Friday. But you can also find powder in other resorts in this region. The wind is still pretty strong today, but will be gone on Thursday. You can expect more snowfall for the northern Alps in the night to Saturday, but the temperatures will rise as well. Check the local avalanche forecast and adapt your plans to it. PowderAdvice for this first step of the threesome:

Incoming southern Föhn
Incoming southern Föhn

Step 2: Snow for the southwest and Föhn for the north

The diagram above perfectly shows the southern Föhn this weekend. Warm air is supplied from the southwest and it will be really warm in the western and northern Alps on Saturday and especially Sunday. It will start snowing on the southern side of the Alps during Sunday. The snowline will be around 1100-1500 meters, but the snow will only be dry above 1600-2000 meters. I expect the most snow south of the Ecrins (think of Puy St. Vincent), south of the Gotthard and the southwest of the Engadin (think of St. Moritz). It will snow heavily from the southwest in the night from Monday to Tuesday. The temperature will go up and down. The PowderAdvice for this second step of the threesome:

Step 3: Snow for the northwest

The current should move to the northwest from Wednesday (but that's still far away, so it might change). The temperature will drop (temporarily) with snow in the northwest and the north of the Alps.

The next update will be published tomorrow! Happy powder chasing! If you want to book your accommodation: support wePowder and use this link. Thanks to everyone who already made a booking!

Stay stoked! Morris


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