PA#7: the western Alps are on fire!

By meteomorris on 4 February 2017 · 1

It's snowing heavily in the western and southern Alps since Thursday night. Occasionally there was some room for the sun, but there were also times when the wind was so powerful that many lifts had to close. These are the inconveniences of a beautiful winter storm. You could complain, but I'd prefer a couple storms and snowfall instead of the drought earlier this winter. Especially because you don't want to be on the highest peaks in this weather anyway. The base between the trees is pretty good right now and with the snow that's coming down on Sunday it's time to hit the trees! In this forecast:

  • Lots of snow and wind in the western Alps
  • More snow coming down on Sunday and Monday
  • Discount on Mountain Academy
  • A 'retour d'est' on Wednesday
  • Lower temperatures and less precipitation after Wednesday

Lots of snow and wind in the western Alps

Saturday started just like Friday with lots of fresh snow, but wind really kicked in during the day. By the end of the day the wind was blowing so hard that lifts were shut down in large parts of the French Alps and northwestern Italy. Gusts of 140 kilometers are just too much for most ski lifts. As a result, there have been massive transportations of snow above the tree line and the avalanche danger in the French Alps increased in many regions. Especially since there is another front coming in on Sunday morning.

On average between 15-50, locally 70 cm of fresh snow above 2000 meters came down the last 48 hours. The most snow fell (as expected) south of the Ecrins and south of the line Gotthard - Piz Buin. But also the French northern Alps and western Switzerland scored 15-30, locally 40 cm of fresh snow. Thanks to the wind that came in from the southwest, the temperatures south of the Ecrins and south of the line Gotthard - Piz Buin were lower compared to the resorts in the northern Alps and that will the same on Sunday.

Sunday Storm
Sunday Storm

More snow coming down on Sunday and Monday

Our storm Liev (with its heavy winds) is moving to the north of the Alps right now, but a new storm is coming in. The fronts have already reached the French southern Alps on Sunday morning and it will expand to the French northern Alps, western Switzerland and northwestern Italy on Sunday morning. The snowfall will extend into the Dolomites on Sunday evening and it will be pushed into the north side of Switzerland and Austria, but also the southern Piedmont (thanks to a current from the northeast). It will keep on snowing lightly on the north side of the main alpine ridge on Monday.

The snow line will be around 800-1100 meters in the resorts in the southern Alps on Sunday and dry snow will come down above 1500 meters, but the snow line will rise a bit during the day. The snow will be pretty humid at first up to 1800 meters in the northern Alps, but the snow line will drop later that day thanks to the wind from the north. The sun will come out in the western and southern Alps on Monday, but it will keep on snowing on the north side of the main alpine ridge with a dropping snow line.

There's a PowderAlert for Sunday and Monday for:

From Monday there's a PowderAlert for:

Don't forget to have fun!! You can book your accommodation here.

You can ride powder in all of the regions mentioned above from Monday. Avoid the highest peaks and look for resorts where you can ride in the trees.

The combination of new snow, rising temperatures and the problems in the current snow cover resulted in a rising 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?

Discount on Mountain Academy

Want access to the most comprehensive online backcountry snow safety courses for skiers and snowboarders? Use code "ALTENMARKT1617", valid until the end of February, to get access for only 9€ (Reg: 29€). Go to Mountain Academy and start now!

A 'retour d'est' on Wednesday

A new front will come in from the northwest on Tuesday bringing snow to the northwest of the Alps. Quantities are still some uncertain and it will depend how fast (or slow) the storm will move. This storm will stick around south of the Alps and could launch PowderAlert #8 by bringing us a retour d'est. But let's enjoy PowderAlert #7 first!

Lower temperatures and less precipitation after Wednesday

If the models are right we can get ready for some low temperatures (and no precipitation) again. But that's still far away.

Stay stoked. Morris


  • Bazsa
    Bazsa op 5 February 2017 · 20:07
    Hi Morris,
    What would you recommend from Wednesday?
    Thanks in advance,


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