Lots of snow for the Alps! But what will happen later this week?


By meteomorris on 11 October 2016 · 0

This week will be an interesting week for meteorologists and for anyone who loves snow. We can expect the dominating current to turn from the east to the south in less than a week. Broadly speaking, this means that the supply of cold air from Russia comes to an end and we can expect some warm air from the Sahara. This will result in lots of freshies in the first place, but the result in the end is not exactly what we were hoping for. But hey, we still have to wait seven weeks before the Corvatsch will open, so we'll have plenty of time. In this forecast:

  • Lots of freshies on the south side of the Alps and too cold for the time of the year
  • More freshies for the east and a retour d'est the next couple of days
  • The föhn will kick in
  • Lots of snow for the Piedmont and the French southern Alps
  • Too bad it's a warm storm following a cold one
  • The temperature will rise

Lots of freshies on the south side of the Alps and too cold for the time of the year

When I was checking the webcams on Monday morning, it still looked like autumn in some parts of the Alps, but it also looked like winter in other regions. But autumn is pretty awesome. The water in the sea is still warm (I had some great surf on Monday morning), but the atmosphere is already cooling down. This led to the first snowfall in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia last week. It's too cold in large parts of Europe for the time of the year and the temperature drops below zero dergrees during clear nights. Cold air from Russia arrived in Europe and you can spot that on the map below as the geen area.

Cold air coming in from Russia
Cold air coming in from Russia

The combination of cold air and humidity results in snowfall and it's already white in some places in the east of Austria and on the south side of the Alps.

Stelvio, Italy
Stelvio, Italy

Hochkar, Austria
Hochkar, Austria

More freshies for the east and a retour d'est the next couple of days

Tuesday will start with a retour d'est, which will bring snow to the border between Italy and France. I expect it to snow heavily around the Mont Viso. It will also start snowing in the east of Austria later that day. It will be the last spark from the cold air from the east before the weather drastically changes.

Pressure distribution from Thursday
Pressure distribution from Thursday

The föhn will kick in

The weather will start to change from Wednesday. A storm (the L on the map above) arrives at the Iberian Peninsula. The current in the Alps will turn from the southeast to the southwest between this storm and a strong high pressure area over Scandinavia. The cold air from Russia is blocked and more and more warm air from the North Africa is heading to the Alps. The current is that strong that we'll experience a classic 'Stau/Föhn' situation.

You can easily spot it on the Föhn chart below. The strong current from the south first arrives in the western Alps. This will result in a very strong Föhn wind on the north side of Switzerland and in the French northern Alps.

Strong Föhn in Switzerland
Strong Föhn in Switzerland

But the Föhn will arrive in Austria not much later.

Föhn in Austria
Föhn in Austria

The temperature will rise, especially in the Föhn regions on the north side of the Alps (check out the orange regions below). It will remain cool on the south side of the Alps (where the air is forced to rise).

Warm Föhn winds in the north, colder in the south
Warm Föhn winds in the north, colder in the south

It's no different in the western Alps. It is warm in the French Northern Alps and the Rhône valley (caused by the current coming from the south to southeast), but the temperatures will (temporarily) be pretty low south of the Ecrins.

Lots of snow for the Piedmont and the French southern Alps

An active front will arrive in the Alps, caused by the current from the south and the approaching storm from the southwest. Initially it is still on the cold side and it will snow heavily in the French Southern Alps and the Italian Piedmont, later expanding to the Monte Rosa and the south of the Gotthard. The snow line will be at pretty low altitude at first and it will snow heavily above 1500 meters especially on the south side of the Ecrins and the Piedmont. The snow line will rise on Thursday and will end up at an altitude of 2400 meters or even higher on Friday. This storm will still bring lots of frehies to the glaciers around the Ecrins, Mont Viso, the Gran Paradiso, the south side of the Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and the Gotthard.

Snowfall the next days
Snowfall the next days

TIP: Check out the snow maps for more details

Too bad it's a warm storm following a cold one

The problem with this storm is that it can't move any further to the east. The dominant high pressure area over continental Europe is pretty much blocking everything and the storm can't bring any cold air from the north. What's left is warm air from the Sahara. The temperature of the precipitation will rise and the snow (before it turns into rain) will get heavier. It's not the type of storm we want for some cold and dry powder. Then again, it's only the second week of October and the snow that's coming down right now is about a month too early.

Warmer weekend
Warmer weekend

The temperature will rise

This weekend the temperatures will go back to normal in the Alps and winter will be gone for a while. Only the glaciers profit from the precipitation. And this is how it should be in October. Snow that's coming down in October is too early. It's the snow in November we want.

Stay stoked
Morris


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