Looking back at winter 15/16

By meteomorris on 24 June 2016 · 0

Winter 2015-2016 was pretty amazing, both from a meteorological as from a personal point of view. Let me show you some interesting statistics from a winter that was epic on one hand, but that can be forgotten quickly on the other. It was a winter in which timing and flexibility were the magic words, but it also was a winter where pretty much every season was represented. Some people had the deepest days of their lives, others had to deal with artificial snow.

How deep was your winter?
How deep was your winter?

Haslinger Sepp was quite wrong with his prediction of the winter of all time. But it wasn't only Mr. Haslinger who was wrong, there were other predictions that weren't that accurate. The US weather institute was in that respect a lot closer to the truth with their prediction that it would be warm and somewhat wet winter in Europe. wePowder doesn't have the supercomputers they have at NOAA and, unfortunately, our office has no garden filled with flora and fauna with a predictive value. We have to work with old-fashioned craftswork and data analysis of the past. That is why we are careful with seasonal forecasts and why we focus on data that's really well-known, but can be useful for us powder chasers. First we researched the influence of El Niño on our winters, where we mainly concentrated on the quantity of fresh snow. And guess what? It could literally go both ways. Then we took it a little further and we found some less known research. We've already mentioned the study of the KNMI in the autumn of 2015. In this study a relationship is established between a (strong) El Niño and a wet spring. It was for this reason that we referred to the Easter period bringing more frequent and deeper powder compared to the Christmas period. Because although we challenge ourselves with seasonal predictions there are some certainties in our winters. The combination of Easter and powder is such a certainty. It's a match nine out of ten times. The vast majority has already stored their gear, but King Winter is still around. It can be spring time in the valleys, but you can expect deep powder on the peaks on a regular basis. But let me show you some statistics from last winter.

  • We had 17 PowderAlerts on wePowder this winter
  • We wrote almost 60 articles with information on where to find the white gold
  • You gave 2000+ comments on those articles
  • It resulted in almost 1400 reports
  • Meanwhile I got around 2900 questions from DM's, mail, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter
  • Fortunately I found some time to ride powder myself

Okay, nice statistics, but how good (or bad) was winter 15/16? If you take a closer look at my articles, you'll notice a trend:

  • Autumn was dry. There were some snowstorms in the south by the end of Summer and some precipitation in Switzerland at the end of November, but Autumn was expectionally dry. Persisting high pressure kept the storms at distance and the temperature above zero degrees Celsius.
  • The waiting game started, but I announced that winter would start on December 20th. You have no idea what kind of crap my fellow forecaster sent me. This got even worse when I announced on the 23rd of December that winter would start in 2016. I'll spare you the curses, but a 'charlatan' is still the most mild variant. My analysis was based on pure data and scientific evidence. At least my forecast had a much more solid base than many seasonal predictions "forecasting" a white Christmas. Which clearly wasn't the case. A lot of people had to deal with white artificial slopes in green hills.

Can somebody tell me where skiing and snowboarding begins and summer ends?

  • Winter arrived on the 3rd of January. It didn't come in with a bang. There was just too much instability in the jet stream. Hot and cold air alternated, so you really had to be flexible to ride some deep powder. We gave you ten tips how to plan your powder trip. The temperature clearly was in a yo-yo phase and these tips helped you to hit the jackpot.

  • This flexibility was key this winter. Although it snowed frequently and very intense in the Alps, scoring deep powder required some planning and patience. A look at our data from last season said it all. The weather would start shifting after the start of winter in the beginning of January. The snow line was shifting and if you thought you could just ride powder for a week, nature came in and told you otherwise.

La Grave
La Grave



  • The temperature remained low for a longer period in the middle of March and the beginning of April. We had the best snow in the Alps in that period. It wasn't crowded, lots of freshies came down and it was cold. The sun didn't even influence the southern faces that much and we could ride between the trees and on wide open faces. The best day of the season for us was in Engelberg and we had to wait till the end of April to have conditions like that again.
  • Yes, you read that right. Winter cam back late April and stayed until mid May. It was as if winter was compensating the real powder addicts for the long wait. Most resorts were by then almost extinct, most of the tourists were already at home and lots of winter websites were already in summer mode. It was worth the wait. It was deep, epic and mostly just for us.

Our patience was put to the test, but all in all it was a good winter. At least if you were willing to do your best. Every so often the nature confronts us with ourselves. Are you willing to go far for your passion? Or do you prefer to blame everyone but yourself that you didn't ride freshies in winter 15/16? It's your choice. It's time to start looking forward to winter 16/17! The keyword will be a La Niña and chances are that it will be significantly colder worldwide. We'll see what happend. We're going into summer mode and we'll be back by the end of August! Let's enjoy summer with some surfing, hiking, biking or whatever makes you happy!

Stay stoked, Morris!


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