Le retour d'est! Where to go?

By meteomorris on 24 November 2016 · 5

Three storms has been active in the Alps since last Friday and that last storm is still around. Those three storms had huge influence on the distribution of the snow in the Alps. The snow cover is pretty much gone below 2000 meters. It's different in the high alpine. You can ride some powder this weekend, despite snow melting, the Föhn storm and relatively high temperatures. But it won't be as good as the weekend of November 12th. In this forecast:

  • Thaw in the western and northern Alps
  • Lots of fresh snow in the northwest of Italy, southern Switzerland and on the border between France and Italy
  • Another big dump on Thursday and Friday
  • Tips for this weekend
  • Long-term

Thaw in the western and northern Alps

Let's start with the bad news. The temperatures have gone up in the northern Alps thanks to the warm Föhn storm from the south. The snow is pretty much gone below 1700 - 2000 meters and the storm transported lots of snow above 2000 meters. The north side of the main alpine ridge (including the French northern Alps) really need a big dump before we can start thinking about riding powder again. Thanks to the work of the ski areas you can still ski or board on the slopes (they've been grooming a lot the last couple of days) above 1700 meters.

Groomed slopes in Hasliberg
Groomed slopes in Hasliberg

The images below show how the conditions changed from 'good' to 'poor' in just 10 days.

Saalbach November 24
Saalbach November 24

Saalbach November 14
Saalbach November 14

It's not much better in the Dolomites. The temperatures were pretty high over there as well. The snow below 2000 meters is mostly gone and the high alpine didn't get any fresh snow. The exception is the northwest of Italy.

Lots of fresh snow in the northwest of Italy, southern Switzerland and on the border between France and Italy

The northwest of Italy has to deal with lots of snow above 2000 meters (and lots of rain below 2000 meters) since Friday. The snow cover in the high alpine got a lot thicker thanks to those three dumps, especially above 2300 meters. Between 60-140 cm, locally even 250 cm, came down in lots of places. The most snow came down around the Gotthard first, but it shifted to the Simplon and the south(east) side of the Monte Rosa.

Gotthard: from 58 to 147 cm in just 2 days
Gotthard: from 58 to 147 cm in just 2 days

Simplon: from 62 to 153 cm in just 2 days
Simplon: from 62 to 153 cm in just 2 days

The western Piedmont and the most eastern ski areas in France can get ready today: the retour d'est is ON!

Retour d'est
Retour d'est

Another big dump on Thursday and Friday

Check out the snow forecast for the next 36 hours above. I expect more snow to some down locally. A current form the east pushes moist air from the Po Valley against the Italian side of the Alps. The cause of all this is a storm depression over Spain.

Retour d'est
Retour d'est


And that storm brings not only snow. Code RED has been issued for the western Piedmont and over 150 mm is forecasted in 24 hours. Check out the news on Twitter with the hashtag #allertameteoPIE or on this website of the local government.

The precipitation will come down as snow above 1600-2000 meters. The snow line on the Italian side is significantly lower than in the French regions (that are just across the border). The snow line will drop especially on Friday and there will be less precipitation in the night to Saturday. (More) Dry snow can be found above 2100-2350 meter on Saturday.

Tips for this weekend

High altitude is key in the northwest of Italy and the east of France the next couple of days. There aren't that many lifts open yet. Alagna-Gressoney in the Monte Rosa area will open their lifts on Saturday. It was scheduled to open on Friday, but because of the heavy winds they postponed the opening. You could also go to Cervinia-Zermatt, but keep in mind that less snow came down on the Swiss side of the border and the snow is more influenced by the wind. The same goes for Saas Fee, with less fresh snow and lots of wind. The lifts are running in Montgenèvre. It's still dumping like crazy and the lifts are running on Saturday. My bet would be Gressoney or Montgenèvre on Saturday. You could go out on a tour on Sunday. Start on a high altitude mountain pass. More details tomorrow.


A cold front from the north will hit the Alps on Sunday. This causes a small northern Stau. This could bring 10-15 cm of snow to the northwest of Switzerland and northern Vorarlberg. The rest of the northern Alps will get 2-5 cm.

A small northern Stau
A small northern Stau

A high-pressure area will position itself over the Alps after Sunday. This will result in a significant drop of temperature, but this high pressure area will also keep the storms at distance. According to the latest calculations, the high pressure area is pretty persistent, so we don't have to expect much fresh snow until the middle of next week. There's still some moisture in the air in the Po Valley and that could be the biggest suprise in combination with the current from the east and some cold air. There's room for new storms in the beginning of December.

High pressure is settling
High pressure is settling

Stay stoked. Morris


  • DWF
    DWF op 24 November 2016 · 16:06
    WOW that #allertameteoPIE is showing some epic stuff! Montgenèvre it is for Saturday.
  • Powdernick
    Powdernick op 24 November 2016 · 20:31
    Any one ski touring Prali on Saturday.
    Ski ya later.
  • RobrobNamnam
    RobrobNamnam op 24 November 2016 · 23:13
    Any one ski touring Prali on Saturday. Powdernick op 24 Nov 2016 20:31

    Wish I would! Wish I would....
  • AdamStekl
    AdamStekl op 25 November 2016 · 08:50
    Hi @meteomorris,
    can I ask you where you get the weather maps that is shown for example on the last picture of this report?
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 25 November 2016 · 15:05 May the powder be with you.


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