The western jet stream ended the cold air coming in from the east. It's mild in large parts of western Europe and the temperatures will keep on rising the next couple of days. At the same time there are at least two serious storms in the forecast. And it might get even worse (or better from a freeride perspective) from the 5th of February. In this forecast:
Between 5-20 cm, locally even 30 cm of fresh snow came down in the southern Piedmont from Friday to Saturday. The inflow of this system marks the transition from continental cold air to mild Atlantic air. The western jetstream that didn't manage once to reach the Alps this season, will finally bring snowfall.
Although the jetstream will be positioned pretty far to the north, a small storm with some cold air will pass the Alps on Monday and Tuesday. This little storm (named Hubert) will bring snow that will fall deep into the valleys at first (thanks to the cold air that's still around in the valleys), but the snow line will rise pretty soon to 1300 meters in the east of Austria and to 1700 meters in the west of Switzerland on Tuesday. You'll only find dry fresh snow above 1600 and 2000 meters. The storm will pass in 36 hours and you can expect between 10-45 cm of fresh snow above 2000 meters. The most snow will fall in the northernmost areas of Switzerland and Austria, but keep in mind that it will rain below 1500 meters. The avalanche danger will rise in the northern Alps.
It will stop snowing once Rubert passed. The current will come from the southwest and you can expect a strong Föhn from the south on the north side of the Alps. The snow that came down above 2000 meters is transported immediately and the avalanche danger level will rise above that altitude thanks to the combination of wind, rising temperatures and fresh snow. The fact that the sun will come out will only make it more dangerous. Choose your line carefully and be alert for rapidly forming wind drifted snow. I won't issue a PowderAlert because of the rising temperatures. You can definitely ride some powder on Wednesday, but warm snow on a cold layer will cause a tense avalanche situation.
An upcoming Föhn from the south and a jetstream that's turning to the west are indication that the second storm is coming in.
The second storm is a completely different type of storm than Rubert. A powerful jet stream is the engine and the first system of fronts will reach the southern Alps on Wednesday. Timing is important the next couple of days, but you can expect this front coming in on Wednesday night, or in the night to Thursday. This system of fronts will bring lots of snow to the southern Alps between Wednesday evening and Saturday. The snow line will drop to 900-1200 meters. At the same time, the northern Alps will have to deal with a strong and mild Föhn from the south that will cause the temperature to rise in the valleys.
Unlike storm Rubert, this storm could bring a PowderAlert. But because nothing is as dynamic as the jetstream, you have to wait a bit longer for more details. If you're planning a trip, I'm happy to give you some key words: weekend 4-6 February, Stau from the south, snowfall in the southern French Alps, Aosta, northern Piedmont, Ticino, Engadin and Lombardia.
I'm getting pretty excited about the long storm. More storms might bring even more snow to the Alps from the 6th of February. The continental winter that mainly brought low temperatures to the Alps is now making place for storms from the west with lots of snow. I'll keep you updated!
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Stay stoked. Morris.