The storm cycle is getting started!


By meteomorris on 30 January 2017 · 0

It will be an interesting week in the Alps. A series of storms is heading to the Alps and will provide rain, snow, wind and fluctuating temperatures this week. It will be especially interesting on the south side of the main alpine ridge if the temperature will drop and we can expect some intense precipitation. In short: there's a good chance that we can issue a PowderAlert for the southern Alps for this weekend. More details later this week, but you better start getting organized! In this forecast:

  • Storm Hubert brings rain and snow to the northern Alps
  • Critical avalanche situation in the northern Alps
  • The next storm will bring lots of snow to the southern Alps
  • The weather will remain turbulent

Storm Hubert
Storm Hubert

Storm Hubert brings rain and snow to the northern Alps

Hubert is a small but active storm bringing snow above 1200-1500 meters on the north side of the Alps. Expect 10-30 cm, locally 40 cm above 2000 meters. The snow line will initially drop on Tuesday (because of the cold air still around in the valleys), but it will rise again in the night to Wednesday. Dry snow will come down only above 1500-1700 meters and you can expect lots of rain below 1100-1400 meters. Thanks to the incoming Föhn from the south Wednesday will be mild and sunny. The freezing level will rise rapidly and will end up at 2500 meters.

Expected precipitation till Wednesday
Expected precipitation till Wednesday

Dominant Föhn from the south
Dominant Föhn from the south

The Alps will have to deal with a current from the southwest from Wednesday. The Föhn from the south will kick in and fronts will reach the southern Alps from the southwest. Two active storms will determine the weather south of the main alpine ridge. The first storm will be located in the Gulf of Genoa, the second storm will make its way to the Alps from the Bay of Biscay.

Critical avalanche situation in the northern Alps

There's a layer of surface hoar visible on top of the snow cover due to last week's low temperatures. And if the layer of surface hoar isn't there the top layer is hard thanks to the wind. Because the snow that will come down the next 48 hours is expected to be much warmer, it will bond poorly with the existing snow cover. The rise in temperature will also have its effect on the stability of the snow cover. The avalanche situation in the Alps will be critical on Tuesday and especially on Wednesday. The sun will come out, and there will definitely be a lot of avalanche dummies that will set some tracks on faces you shouldn't be skiing or snowboarding. Stay focused and make the right decisions.

There's a good base above the tree line, but because of the amounts of fresh snow, wind, surface hoar or the hard an old top layer it isn't too hard to trigger an avalanche.

Keep asking yourself the next questions:

  • Do you have the right kwowledge?
  • Do you (and the other riders in your group) have the gear (avalanche beacon, shovel and probe)?
  • Have you read the local avalanche forecast?
  • Do you know which parts of the mountain you have to avoid that particular day to minimize the risk?

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Two storms on their way
Two storms on their way

The next storm will bring lots of snow to the southern Alps

The small T that you can see on the map above in the Gulf of Genoa will develop itself into an independent storm that will bring lots of snow to the resorts south of the main alpine ridge between Friday and Sunday. Moist air hits the southern side of the main alpine ridge and you can expect a lot of snow in the southern French Alps and northwestern Italy. The first front will kick in on Thursday. This front is still a bit 'weak', but is followed by a much stronger front on Friday. The snow line will drop to 900-1200 meters, locally even lower. Another front will hit these regions on Saturday and you can also expect more snow on Sunday. I expect that because of the intensity of the fronts the expected amounts of snow on the south side of the Alps will increase even further the next couple of days!

The weather will remain turbulent

The weather will remain unstable after Sunday and I expect more snowfall. The models are still not clear which regions will benefit the most, because it looks like the jetstream will turn to the west. Anyway, the resorts in the southern French Alps and the northwest of Italy will be the place to be until next weekend!

Stay stoked. Morris


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