North, south and west. Now THAT'S a storm cycle!

By meteomorris on 31 January 2017 · 0

It's raining in the valleys of the northern Alps (including the French northern Alps) right now. The snow line fluctuates between 1400 and 1800 meters and dry snow comes down only above 2000 meters. The current will turn to the south on Wednesday and a new storm will bring a lot of fresh snow to the southern Alps. A new front will come in on Saturday and that one will hit the French Alps. There are more storms visible on the weather maps after the weekend. In short, the weather will be quite interesting this week. In this forecast:

  • Snow and rain in the northern Alps
  • Critical avalanche situation
  • Snow for the southern Alps
  • Snow for the French Alps

Snow and rain in the northern Alps

It's raining, as expected in large parts of the northern Alps, where the freezing level is around 1800-2000 meters. The snow line fluctuates between 1400 and 1800 meters and below 2000 meters altitude the precipitation is a mixture of wet snow and rain. It's raining below 1500 meters. Some cold air will reach the northern Alps of the Salzburgerland and Steiermark by the end of the afternoon and that will cause the snow line to drop to 1000-1400 meters. You can expect 10-30 cm, locally 40 cm, of fresh snow above 2000 meters until tomorrow morning.

Wet snow at 1700 meters
Wet snow at 1700 meters

The sun will come out on the north side of the Alps on Wednesday morning. Thanks to the current from the south the northern Alps will have to deal with a Föhn wind and the freezing level will rise to 2500 meters on Wednesday and Thursday.

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. There's a crust on south facing slopes. Not quite the perfect conditions. 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 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?

Discount on Mountain Academy

Want access to the most comprehensive online backcountry snow safety courses for skiers and snowboarders? Use code "SAFE1617", valid until the end of January, to get access for only 9€ (Reg: 29€). Go to Mountain Academy and start now!

Snow for the southern Alps

The current will come from the southwest from Wednesday. The Föhn wind from the south is getting stronger and multiple front will head for the south side of the Alps. Two active storms will determine the weather on the south and west side of the Alps. Even the Dolomites will get some snow, but because of the lack of a base (they just don't have any natural snow at the moment) you don't even have to think about driving down there.

The French southern Alps and large parts of the Italian Piedmont will also get a lot of snow. You can already find a good base between the (larch) trees and with around 50 cm of fresh snow in the forecast the riding will be good on Friday and Saturday. The first front will hit these regions on Thursday. This front won't bring that much snow, but the front that's coming in on Friday will. The snow line will drop to 900-1200 meters, locally even lower. And the next front will come in on Saturday.

Snow for the French Alps

Another storm is supposed to hit the Alps in the night to Sunday. This one is coming from the west and will hammer the French Alps. Expect some shifting details the next couple of days, but the forecast looks good!

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!

Where to go?

I'll give some advice on where to go tomorrow. Wax up! The chase is ON!

Stay stoked. Morris


You need to be logged in to post a comment in this topic. Login or create an account.

Upgrade to wepowder Pro

  • Extended 14 day forecast
  • Slope angle and exposition terrain layers
  • Inspirational freeride routes
wePowder Pro