The Alps can get ready for some serious snowfall the next couple of days. When you look at the snow maps you might get the feeling thet pretty much every resort is a safe bet this weekend, but it isn't that simple. The first fronts are focused on the south and southwest of the Alps. The second series of fronts from the west will only arrive on Sunday and it will really start snowing in the northwest of the Alps in the night from Sunday to Monday. If you make a decision only based on the weather maps you could miss the eye of the storm. I'll give you some PowderAdvice today. Believe me, there nothing as annoying as to drive home when the storm arrives. In this forecast:
The resorts north of the main alpine ridge got a lot of fresh snow since Tuesday. Especially the triangle between Engelberg in the west, the Arlberg tunnel in the east and Livigno in the south got a lot of snow (30-50 cm, locally up to 60 cm of fresh snow). Unfortunately, the temperatures were rising yesterday and a lot of wet snow avalanche were spotted. It only stayed cold in the southern valleys deep in the main alpine ridge and the snow wasn't that much influenced by the rising temperatures.
The combination of new snow, rising temperatures and the problems in the current snow cover resulted in a rising avalanche danger. The situation becomes more critical today, thanks to the rising temperatures: 'The fresh snow of the last few days is lying on top of a weakly bonded old snowpack. As a consequence of the southwesterly wind extensive snow drift accumulations will form. This applies in particular at elevated altitudes. The fresh snow drift accumulations are prone to triggering. On north facing slopes individual natural avalanches are to be expected. Single winter sport participants can release avalanches easily. These can penetrate deep layers and reach dangerously large size.' (source: SLF).
Keep asking yourself the next questions:
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You can really notice that we're in between two storms today. There's a strong Föhn on the north side of the main alpine ridge since yesterday afternoon, causing the temperatures to rise to +4 to +6 degrees at 2000 meters with lots of sunshine. But you can see the temperature drop in the French southern Alps and on the south side of the main alpine ridge and more clouds are coming in. All indications that there's a front coming in from the south to southwest.
The flow is coming from the southwest the next two days. It's snowing already lightly south of the Gotthard, but an active front will arrive tonight and it will snow heavily in parts of the French southern Alps (especially around Isola 2000 and south of the Ecrins) and south of line Monterosa - Gotthard - Piz Buin from Thursday to Friday. They will get 20-40 cm, locally even 50 cm of fresh snow around 2000 meters between Thursday evening and Saturday morning. The Dolomites will also get a lot of snow, but because there's not much (or even no) natural snow east of the Ortler, that's not really an option this weekend.
The snow line in the southern Alps will fluctuate between 1400 and 1800 meters, but will drop rapidly to 800 to 1300 meters. A new (and weaker) front will come in in the night to Saturday bringing more snow. There's a PowderAlert for Friday and Saturday for:
I expect the most snow south of the Gotthard until Saturday morning, because the front will stick around longer over there on Friday and because the front that will pass in the night from Friday to Saturday is coming more from the west. You can see that on the Föhnchart below. There's a Föhn wind coming from the south today, it will be pretty much gone on Friday and will come back again (although not that strong) on Saturday. If you look carefully you can see that you don't have to expect any significant snowfall on the north side of the main alpine ridge till Sunday/Monday.
Your best bet will be the resorts in the French southern Alps or the resorts south of the Gotthard-Piz Buin on Friday and Saturday. The choice you make could be primarily motivated by the travel distance, because you can find great snow in both regions.
When you also want to add Sunday to your trip, I would go to a resort south of the French Ecrins, La Thuile or Courmayeur, because they'll get some more fresh snow in the night from Saturday to Sunday. My PowderAdvice for Friday/Saturday:
French southern Alps (Click on the resorts to book accommodation)
Reasonable to good base between the trees.
Southern Alps (Click on the resorts to book accommodation)
Thin to reasonable base between the trees.
A new front arrives in the night to Saturday, or during Sunday. This front is more coming from the west. This warm front brings snow from the southwest at first, but the current will change to west to northwest. That's great news for the resorts in the French Alps and the resorts in the west and northwest of Switzerland. Even the Arlberg region will get some fresh snow by the end of the weekend. There is a PowderAlert for Sunday to Tuesday for:
The timing of this storm will determine if you can ride significant powder in the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland on Sunday. It's hard to estimate when this front will come in, but one thing is sure: the snow conditions on the slopes will improve on Sunday and with some luck we can ride between the trees. To take maximum advantage of this second episode, you should arrive in the regions above on Saturday or Sunday night and stick around until Tuesday. The weekend crowds are already gone and you can still ride powder.
The PowderChase will be:
Friday and Saturday
Don't forget to have fun!! You can book your accommodation here.
According to the latest calculations the jet stream will start to meander again and its exact position isn't known yet. If it will be northwest and heading for the Alps, then we can expect some more storms. But if the high pressure returns, well, then this stormcycle will die in all its beauty leaving the complete Alps with a blanket of fresh powder. Next update tomorrow!
Stay stoked. Morris