Up to 50 cm of fresh snow, HIGH avalanche danger and PA #7!


By meteomorris on 1 February 2017 · 0

Between 10-50 cm of fresh snow came down in the northern Alps since Tuesday. The most snow fell between Engelberg in the west and the Arlberg tunnel in the east and especially around Davos-Klosters and the Silvretta that got 35-50 cm of fresh snow. The avalanche danger is now HIGH (4) in some regions. Meanwhile, the current is turning to the southwest and the Föhn from the south will kick in on the north side of the Alps. It will start snowing in the course of Thursday on the south side of the Alps (including the French southern Alps). The current will turn to the west on Saturday and the other regions of the French Alps will also get their share. And there might be more snow in the forecast for the northern Alps after the weekend, but since that's still pretty far away it's still subject to change. But where should you ride powder this weekend? In this forecast:

  • Lots of snowfall and locally HIGH avalanche danger in the northern Alps
  • € 20 discount on Mountain Academy
  • Current to the southwest bringing fresh snow to the southern Alps
  • Where to go this weekend?

Lots of snowfall and locally HIGH avalanche danger in the northern Alps

Between 10-30 cm of fresh snow came down on the north side of the Alps the last couple of days. The resorts between Engelberg in the west, the Arlberg tunnel in the east and Livigno in the south got a bit more snow (30-50 cm). The snow line fluctuated between 1500 and 2000 meters, and even up to 2200 meters in the west of Switzerland and the French northern Alps.

The cold air that came in yesterday caused the snow line to drop again to 1500 meters or even lower in the afternoon. It stayed pretty cold in the valleys in the heart of the Alps, such as the Engadin. The heavy cold air simply couldn't escape from the valleys.

This wasn't the case in Davos-Klosters for example, situated north of the Vereina tunnel in Switzerland. Warm air came in and the precipitation came down as rain or wet snow up to 2000 meters. It's really hard to forecast those differences for the computerized weather models, simply because they don't recognize that cold air and micro climates. And every powder trip remains an adventure in itself.

Powder above 2000 meters in Davos
Powder above 2000 meters in Davos

Powder in Livigno
Powder in Livigno

As expected, the combination of new snow, rising temperatures and the current snow cover resulted in a higher avalanche danger. The situation becomes critical today, thanks to the rising temperatures: 'In particular on steep north facing slopes small to medium-sized natural avalanches are to be expected. Avalanches can in many places be released, even by a single winter sport participant. Remote triggering is to be expected.' (source: SLF).

CONSIDERABLE to HIGH avalanche danger
CONSIDERABLE to HIGH avalanche danger

Keep asking yourself the next questions:

  • Do you have the right knowledge?
  • 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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Current to the southwest bringing fresh snow to the southern Alps

The current will turn to the southwest this afternoon. The north side of the Alps will have to deal with a strong Föhn wind (pay attention to wind-drifted snow and wet snow avalanches) and clouds will come in in the French southern Alps and every resort south of the main alpine ridge. This will result in lots of snow for the French southern Alps south of the Ecrins. Same story for the resorts south of the line Monte Rosa - Gotthard - Piz Buin. They will get 20-40 cm, locally even 50 cm of fresh snow around 2000 meters between Thursday and Friday. The snow line will fluctuate between 900 and 1400 meters and you can expect dry snow to come down above 1400 - 1700 meters. The exact direction of the front will determine where the most snow will come down. A new front will come in in the night to Saturday bringing more snow. The temperature will go up and down thanks to the incoming fronts with cold and warm air.

There's a PowderAlert for:

Where to go this weekend?

Although there might be some room for the sun between the fronts, I would prefer a resort with great tree runs. But where can you already find forests with a reasonable base? That's tricky. Please also note that most of the snow will come down from Thursday to Friday (French southern Alps) or on Friday during the day (south side of the Monte Rosa - Gotthard - Piz Buin). So you'd better wait till Friday to ride some trees. Check out a first indication on where to go below. I'll update this list tomorrow. I strongly recommend not to pick your resort until Thursday!

French southern Alps (Can't wait? Click on the resorts to book accommodation)
Reasonable to good base between the trees.

Southern Alps (Can't wait? Click on the resorts to book accommodation)
Thin to reasonable base between the trees.

Next update tomorrow! Of course you could also go to other resorts to ride powder the next couple of days, but I have made a first selection for you. If you know other resorts that have a good base between the trees and where there's snow in the forecast the next couple of days: let me know!

More storms after Sunday

There will be more storms coming in after Sunday. According to the European model we can expect snowfall in the northern Alps, but the Americans don't really agree. They expect snowfall in the western and southern Alps.

Stay stoked. Morris


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