Will the Big Change happen shortly? Or not?


By meteomorris on 15 December 2016 路 7

It feels like I'm riding a roller coaster for days. The models are going back and forth and up and down. It all has to do with the exact location of the Mediterranean storm next week. A shift of 50 kilometers to the south or east has huge implications for the snowfall in the Alps and the Pyrenees. In this forecast:

  • The Big Change
  • Keep the faith
  • What about the northern Alps?

The Big Change

I introduced the Big Change earlier this week. The Alps are dealing with high pressure for weeks now. The first breakthrough from the south appeared on the maps of the American model on Saturday. According to the calculations a storm that's getting stronger and stronger over the Atlantic will breach the belt of high pressure, and after that a storm depression could develop itself over the Mediterranean.

This storm will breach the belt of high pressure
This storm will breach the belt of high pressure

And this storm over the Mediterranean develops
And this storm over the Mediterranean develops

In such a situation cold air initially flows from the continent into the Italian Po Valley. There's lots of humidity in that region and the current will pick up extra moisture in the Adriatic Sea. This combination of cold air and moisture will hit the mountains at the border of Italy and France and the mountains at the border of Italy and Switzerland (the Italian Piedmont). This could be the jackpot. If it all happens.

But as always the devil is in the details. Because there is no strong jet stream south of the Alps, it is very difficult to calculate the exact storm path of this little Mediterranean storm. And that can also be the reason why the models are totally lost. We just have to wait until the calculations get more stable and even than nothing is more fickle as a storm in the Mediterranean.

Keep the faith

Humans are strange creatures. We are optimistic about the chances of success if we can gain advantage of it and that means that we sometimes can literally move mountains. It is the burning fire within us (at least in me) that pulls me to the Alps every time. I'm looking at weather maps for almost 30 years and I have seen many Mediterranean storms. Each one had a surprise in store. What to think for example of storm Andrea in March 2014? The trips to the southern Alps resulted in many adventures, but the waiting beforehand often seemed endless.

That's the problem with dumps from the south. Rule of thumb is that you can only tell with certainty that it will snow about 48 hours in advance, but even 24 hours in advance it's hard to tell where the most snow will fall and how much will come down. These are the moments when I purely make decisions on intuition and experience. But to be quite honest... I have no idea right now. And you just have to deal with the hope that GFS (the American weather model) provides again this morning.

Snowfall in the Alps next week
Snowfall in the Alps next week

But the map above provides some hope for the flexible riders among us. If you can make a decision last minute, you can expect to drive to the Piedmont at the end of next week to ride some powder above 2000 meters altitude. But if you've already booked your holiday in Switzerland, Austria or the French northern Alps the map above doesn't offer that much perspective.

What about the northern Alps?

Well, what perspective can I offer when the weather maps decided to take another ride in the roller coaster? Probably the best thing to do is not to have a look at the weather maps for the next five days and just be happy with all the artificial snow. Things can only become better from that starting point. We'll all still need to do a lot of snow dancing to convince King Winter to bring some significant snowfall to the Alps. The last eight calculations offered some perspective twice, but that bit of hope disappeared this morning. The main weather models give no sign of significant snowfall for the northern Alps till Christmas.

Even the ensembles are pessimistic
Even the ensembles are pessimistic

There was some hope yesterday, but today we just have to accept a dusting of snow for the northern Alps in the next seven days.

Keep on dancing!

Just keep on dancing! The party is starting slowly and we'll just have to keep hoping. Maybe this four hour set will help!

Stay stoked. Morris

Comments


  • Ssmokem
    Ssmokem op 15 December 2016 路 12:14
    We have a camping spot booked for stubai for christmas, but i am hoping to drive a bit further to Italy and find the fresh stuff. Keeping the snow dance going.
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 16 December 2016 路 15:23
    @Ssmokem, will keep you posted 馃槈
    May the powder be with you.
  • richd
    Advanced
    richd op 16 December 2016 路 15:32
    There's simply not enough dancing going on Morris . Turn up the soundz!
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 16 December 2016 路 15:41
    @richd, you're right.. Come on!!

    May the powder be with you.
  • richd
    Advanced
    richd op 16 December 2016 路 22:46
    Just looked at the models 'till Jan 1. Future looks very very grim except for perhaps a short xmas day presi.
  • gores95
    gores95 op 17 December 2016 路 22:24
    I'm from USA flying into Zurich mid-January. Right now heading to Zermatt but depending on snow I could change to St. Anton. I know Zermatt at least has the glacier! Would love to see a pattern change in the Southern Alps....would like to see snow at the base!
    Marc
  • meteomorris
    Tourist
    meteomorris op 18 December 2016 路 19:52
    @gores95, mid January is low tide in the Alps and at that time it's rather easy to find last minute accommodation. I would wait at least until the first week of January before booking.

    @richd, go south next week!
    May the powder be with you.

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