No snow in the forecast for the Alps. Dance for snow!

By meteomorris on 7 December 2016 · 2

The weather in the Alps is not about to change. A strong high pressure area keeps storm depressions at distance and sends cold air toward eastern Europe. A storm will gently touch the eastern Alps after the weekend, but it won't be much. The maps gave us some hope at the beginning of the week, but right now the storm is pretty much gone and you only have to expect some flakes. In this forecast:

  • Storm depressions at a distance
  • Lots of snow in North America and the east of Europe
  • This is all caused by a meandering jetstream

Dominant high pressure
Dominant high pressure

Storm depressions at a distance

High pressure area Uwe settled itself above the Alps last week. There are no dynamics or whatsoever in the weather right now. Such stable high pressure systems can block the weather for days or sometimes even weeks and will bring sunshine and no precipitation. According to the latest calculations this high pressure area determines the weather in the Alps and Pyrenees until the 14th-16th of December. After that date storm depressions should be able to make their way back to the Alps. Some snow might come down around the 10-11th of December but the quantities are so small that it's not significant. Don't expect a PowderAlert shortly, but you should be able to find some powder with a mountain guide. There's still plenty of snow, you just have to find it.

I can imagine that those who booked their holidays during Christmas are getting a bit nervous. However, if the weather changes around the 16th, it's still almost ten days till Christmas and the snowfall at the beginning of November has shown how fast the conditions can improve in a week.

Lots of snow in North America and the east of Europe

The snow maps for the Alps and the Pyrenees show no significant snowfall for the next five days, bu that's different for North America and the far east of Europe. You can see lots of red colors on the maps! Check out the five day forecast from the US model for Europe and North America.

Snow forecast in inches for Europe and Asia
Snow forecast in inches for Europe and Asia

Snow forecast in inches for North America
Snow forecast in inches for North America

You can see the same amounts if you have a look at our snow maps for North America. They expect 100 to 200 centimeters of fresh snow next week.

With the current exchange rate, the US is not directly an alternative to the Alps, because a day pass can easily cost 80 euros or more at the moment and accommodation is no longer as cheap as ten years ago. But Canada is a great option. The exchange rate of the Canadian dollar is really good and there's plenty of snow.

This is all caused by a meandering jetstream

Many people see parallels with last year, when there also was a long period without precipitation. Regarding the outcome they are right (no precipitation in the Alps), but its cause is completely different. Last year we had to deal with a very strong Polar Vortex and a very strong jet stream that was present in the more northern latitudes.

That's completely different this fall. The Polar Vortex is weak and the jet stream meanders across the northern hemisphere. We could have been lucky with cold temperatures compared to last winter with lots of fresh snow, or (and that's happening right now) we could simply have some bad luck where we have to deal with some warm air.

Check out the map and you can see the jet stream moving to Russia via Scandinavia.

Jetstream on the northern hemisphere
Jetstream on the northern hemisphere

The result is that we have to deal with mild maritime air. In the areas where the jetstream doesn't meander north, but meanders south it's much colder and the snow cover is growing rapidly.

Mild temperatures in western Europe and low temperatures on the rest of the northern hemisphere
Mild temperatures in western Europe and low temperatures on the rest of the northern hemisphere

In short: it may be warm in Europe, but it's too easy to say that the situation is the same as last winter. Now you can do two things. Either travel to those parts of the globe where the powder is coming down right now, or just wait until the snow arrives in the Alps and Pyrenees. And that will definitely happen.

Stay stoked. Morris


  • void
    void op 7 December 2016 · 13:05
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 7 December 2016 · 20:26
    @void Gudauri is already loaded with snow and as far as I know lift will open in the weekend of 12-13 december.

    Webcams of today

    I was there with @Arjen a few years ago. Nice terrain (when the lifts are running). Don't forget your tour set up.
    Really nice backside which brings you to the mountain pass/border with Russia. Better arrange some transport for the way back before you drop in 😉
    May the powder be with you.


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