The resorts in Switzerland and Austria north of the main alpine ridge can expect some serious amounts of snow in a series of two dumps the next 10 days. It's time to start waxing, because you can get ready to ride powder in the northern Alps. You don't have to expect any precipitation in the rest of the Alps (including the French northern Alps). We'll have to wait until the 12-14th of January before there's some hope for the French Alps. In this forecast:
Check out the forecast maps till Friday. Our model (that is based on the European model) is showing some nice orange and red colors, which means 40-80 cm of fresh snow till Friday. The American model comes up with similar maps, so we can get ready for PowderAlert #4! The models start to agree more and more about the mid-term. A new current from the north will hit the Alps after the weekend of the 7th and 8th of January, bringing lots of snow to the resorts north of the main alpine ridge.
Great news for the resorts on the north side of the main alpine ridge in Switzerland and Austria. They can expect between 40 and 80 cm of snow in the next 120 hours. Especially the resorts east of the line Zürich-Engelberg and all the way to die Steiermark in Austria will get significant amounts of snow. I expect the most snow to come down north of northern Swiss alpine ridge, Vorarlberg, the Kleinwalsertal and the resorts on the border of Tyrol, around the Hohe Tauern and in the resorts in the Salzburgerland, Styria and Ober- and Niederösterreich.
A lot of snow already came down in the resorts in the Salzburgerland, Styria and Ober- and Niederösterreich last week. Those resorts have a pretty good base right now. And that's not the case in other (popular) resorts and valleys like the Zillertal and Arlberg. So my bet to ride some powder will be the resorts in the Salzburgerland, Styria and Ober- and Niederösterreich next week.
That's great news for the resorts between Engelberg in the west and Hochkar in the east, but it's bad news for the other regions in the Alps. They don't have to expect any snowfall. The models are hinting for snow to come down in the French northern Alps in about ten days, but that's still uncertain. More about that the next couple of days.
Monday: the high pressure area gives way to a first storm. Clouds are coming in from the north on Monday and this will result in snowfall for the resorts north of the main alpine ridge in Switzerland and Austria. Even the Portes du Soleil might get some flakes. There's a heavy wind from the north, but this wind will get less and less powerful during the day (starting from the west, but only where it's snowing). It is sunny and dry in the rest of the Alps.
Tuesday: There are some clouds hanging in the valley on the north side of the main alpine ridge on Tuesday. It's bluebird in the rest of the Alps. The few clouds that are still there will disappear quickly.
Wednesday: The storm from the north is getting fired up. The clouds will get thicker on the north side of the main alpine ridge and it will snow heavily on the north side of the Swiss and Austrian Alps. The most snow will come down north of the Swisse northern alpine ridge, Vorarlberg, the Kleinwalsertal and the resorts on the border of Tyrol, around the Hohe Tauern and in the resorts in the Salzburgerland, Styria and Ober- and Niederösterreich. The snow line will drop deep into the valleys. The wind won't be that strong in the resorts in the pre-Alps, but will be quite heavy in the resorts in the Swisse northern alpine ridge and the main alpine ridge. You can expect 20-60 cm of fresh snow until Thursday morning. It's sunny and dry in the rest of the Alps, but especially the French Alps will get hit by a strong northern wind (Mistral).
Thursday: It will keep on snowing on the north side of the Alps with another 10-30 cm of fresh snow coming down deep into the valleys. There's still a lot of wind on the peaks of the Swiss northern alpine ridge and the main alpine ridge. Bluebird conditions in the rest of the Alps.
The sun will come out after Friday and the weekend will be (quite) sunny in the Alps.
Between 30-70 cm of snow came down in the Salzburgerland, Styria and Ober- and Niederösterreich after Christmas. The combination of a good base + fresh snow in the forecast is enough for a PowderAlert for the Northern Alps East from Wednesday/Thursday. And even though the holidays are still going strong in Europe, you can still find plenty of accommodation in this region to ride some great snow for a day or four. Think about resorts like:
The other resorts north of the main alpine ridge between Engelberg and Innsbruck can expect 30-70 cm of fresh snow the next couple of days, but realize that there is almost no base. The lists with current snow depths will make you believe something different, but keep in mind that this is mostly artificial snow on the slopes and that there's practically no snow off-piste.
Please realize that there's no such thing as a base below 2000 to 2500 meters. The base that's still there in the high alpine is either hard (because of the rain up to 2400 meters earlier this week) or consists of sugar snow. You can ride powder on alpine meadows without rocks, brenches or other sharks on Thursday, but I won't venture into the high alpine yet. No PowderAlert for this region, but if you have the right (local) knowledge, you should be able to find great snow in the Northern Alps Central.
A second dump will hit the Alps after the weekend. The conditions in the rest of the northern Alps in Austria and Switzerland will have become so much better that you can ride powder on the base of the first dump.
You don't have to expect any snowfall in the French Alps for a while. But there's some hope on the horizon. The American model is showing a current from the west (on two runs already) that should start between the 12th and 14th of January. Unfortunately, the European model isn't showing those runs yet... If the current will really come form the west (like GFS is showing right now), then there will be increased chances of snow for France.
In short: a PowderAlert for the northern Alps east. And even though the holidays are still going strong in Europe, you can still find plenty of accommodation in this region to ride some great snow for a day or four.
Next update tomorrow!
Stay stoked. Morris