PA#10: Today is a powder day! Snow for the southern Alps this weekend!

By meteomorris on 1 March 2017 · 3

Tuesday was a good day! Heavy wind, lots of snowfall, a fluctuating snow line, rain, snowfall again and a whopping three fronts moving through the Alps in less than 36 hours. As a meteorologist I was pretty excited, but also as a snowboarder the powder at the end of the day felt pretty good. Today will be even better, even though clouds in the northwest of the Alps and a strong Föhn from the north in the south of the Alps will do their best to ruin the fun. It feels like winter today. Today is a powder day! In this forecast:

  • Locally 50-70 cm of fresh snow
  • PowderAdvice today
  • Tricky conditions thanks to a lot of wind and a thin base
  • Shifting temperatures
  • Snow for the southern Alps this weekend!
  • After the weeekend: spring or the comeback of winter?

Locally 50-70 cm of fresh snow

Three fronts within a day brought us a lot of snow, but also some continuously changing conditions. You might have experienced that as frustrating, but I enjoyed it. Especially since I knew that today would be a great day, although the cold front will bring clouds to the northwest and north of the Alps. Those clouds can be pretty stubborn, since the sun might shine on the next face. There's a strong Föhn coming from the north in the southern Alps trying to spoil the fun. A couple of lifts might close during the day, but simply enjoy this powder day.

Some fresh snow in Livigno last night
Some fresh snow in Livigno last night

PowderAdvice today

  • The Hautes Alpes (there's a good base in the trees in Serre Chevalier, Risoul, Puy Saint Vincent and Pelvoux)
  • Aosta (there's a good base between the trees in La Thuile and Courmayeur. Wind will be an issue on Wednesday morning)
  • The north of Lombardia and the southwest of the Engadin
  • The north of Vorarlberg (especially from Wednesday)
  • Vaude and the Berner Oberland (especially from Wednesday)
  • Western Lower Wallis (especially around Trient from Wednesday)
  • The ski areas around Chamonix (especially from Wednesday)
  • The pearl of the Alps (La Grave)
  • The 'ski factories' in the Savoie (Paradiski)

You can ride powder in the rest of the Alps as well today. There will be less snow, there won't be a decent base and you'll have to ride powder on the slopes at first.

Tricky conditions thanks to a lot of wind and a thin base

But a lot of snowfall, three fronts, shifting wind directions and a wind that's from time to time really heavy won't make it a no-brainer to ride some powder. On top of that, the snow cover is thin, there's often no base between the trees and there are some crappy layers deeper in the snow cover. Take it easy!

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Warm front around the corner
Warm front around the corner

Shifting temperatures

Today will be pretty good, but warm air will arrive in the Alps by the end of the day. Thanks to a warm front with precipitation for the northwest and the north of the Alps the snow line will rise to 1300-1700 meters and the freezing level will rise to 1500-2000 meters.

A cold front that will cause the snow line to drop again temporarily will arrive in the night to Thursday (in Austria on Thursday morning), but it will rise again soon after that. Thursday will be a tricky day. The snowpack will become unstable during the day due to the rising temperature combined with the fresh snow. If you have the right knowledge, you can still ride some good powder.

The Stau from the south will come in on Friday. A low pressure system hits the Bay of Biscay and triggers a massive southern current. This will result in a lot of snow south of the Gotthard, the Monte Rosa and in the western Piedmont. The western regions in the southern Alps will hit the jackpot.

Snow for the southern Alps this weekend!

There's one thing... The incoming air is pretty warm. The northern Alps will get hit by a strong Föhn wind from the south and the temperature will rise again to spring like values. It will be much colder on the south side of the main alpine ridge (thanks to orographic cooling), but the freezing level is still pretty high over there as well. Thanks to the immense congestion and the orographic cooling the snow line drops towards 1000-1400 meters.

Snowfall on Saturday
Snowfall on Saturday

Snowfall for the southern Alps on Friday and Saturday, but the exact resorts and associated snow line and freezing level are still an issue. Anyway, PowderAlert #11 is visible on the maps. But have patience. Never book too early to take advantage of the best conditions. Check out this article for some advice.

After the weeekend: spring or the comeback of winter?

It will be even more exciting after the weekend. The output of the models go up and the down with the run last night as the biggest bang. The American GFS model comes with a scenario where spring will take over, but the European ECMWF model prefers the comeback of winter.

We'll see what happens. When the models have different outcomes, the simply just have no clue. Be patient and enjoy the powder today!

Stay stoked. Morris


  • dpenn
    dpenn op 1 March 2017 · 12:46
    Hi Morris, bergfex has a slightly different story for this weekend, with the major accumulations moving east on Sunday (i.e., showing up to 50cm hitting Dolomites east to Corinthia [like Nassfeld]). Any thoughts on those chances?
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 1 March 2017 · 18:08
    @dpenn, friday and saturday most snow is aimed at the western alps and especially the southern part of them. For Sunday models are struggling with the output. Data is shifting from run to run so it is still hard to say.
    May the powder be with you.
  • peterski
    peterski op 1 March 2017 · 18:25
    shot in the dark- will be skiing in Verbier this weekend and Monday/Tuesday, looking for people to maybe split the cost of a mountain guide to go off piste on Monday and/or Tuesday, send me a message if interested.


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