It is winter in the east of Switzerland and large parts of Austria. It's snowing, the wind is blowing and the temperature will drop toward the minus 20 degrees at 2000 meters altitude this weekend. Meanwhile, already 20-60 cm of fresh snow already came down and another 20-40 cm of snow will fall today. There is a powder alert for the Northern Alps East, but be aware: the avalanche danger has gone up to 3 (considerable) due to the snowfall and wind and a single skier can cause an avalanche. Furthermore, there is good news for the French Alps. The weather models finally agree on bringing snowfall to the French Alps, but I think the amounts of snow that will come down a bit disappointing. In this forecast:
It's snowing and it's not snowing lightly. The measuring stations are showing nice amounts of snow and the webcams images are finally white.
It will keep on snowing today. Especially in Austria and eastern Switzerland you can expect another 20-40 cm of snow. There won't be snow coming down in the other regions of the Alps. The sun will come out every now and then on Friday and Saturday morning, but it wll be really cold in large parts of the Alps. It will start to snow again in Austria on Saturday, while there won't be any precipitation in the rest of the Alps. More snow will come down on Sunday and the Northern Alps East can expect the most snow. Again.
Because of the snowfall, the wind and the lack of a base in some resorts, or even an old base in other resorts, the avalanche danger has gone up to level 3 (considerable) in many parts of the Alps. In addition, keep in mind that the resorts in the Northern Alps West and Northern Alps Central don't have a base. Be aware of rocks, branches or other sharks!
I'd ride powder on alpine meadows without rocks and branches on Thursday. Due to the lack of a base there's no PowderAlert for the complete northern Alps, but you can certainly ride powder with the right knowledge in the Northern Alps Central.
So we're talking about lots of snowfall, but this comes with lots of risks. The combination of a good base + fresh snow in the forecast is enough for a PowderAlert for the Northern Alps East from 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:
Pay attention: the wind will be pretty strong in resorts like Hochkar and Hinterstoder the next 36 hours. The conditions will improve in resorts such as Obertauern and Kaprun, but the wind will be something to keep in mind in those resorts.
There's finally snow in the forecast for the French northern Alps from Tuesday / Wednesday. The European model is the most positive. According to their calculations it will start snowing in the French northern Alps on Tuesday and it will keep on snowing for a week. It might even snow in the northwest of the French southern Alps. I'll keep a close eye on this scenario the next couple of days. What a start of 2017. You can ride powder right now in the eastern Alps, or wait for the plot of this thriller fro the western Alps. Let's hope for the French resorts that that snow will actually come down, because they really, really need it!
Stay stoked. Morris