PA #11 is coming up: snow for the southern Alps

By meteomorris on 2 March 2017 · 3

We're still in the middle of PowderAlert #10, it's been snowing again and you can get ready for PowderAlert #11 this weekend. The jet stream is on fire and we're in the middle of a storm cycle. Unfortunately there's a strong wind from the west today and the snow line can be found a bit higher up the mountain. On top of that, the avalanche danger level has locally gone up to CONSIDERABLE (3) or HIGH (4) because of the large amounts of fresh snow, the wind and the fluctuating snow line. You can definitely still ride some powder with the right knowledge. In this forecast:

  • More snowfall in the forecast
  • Lots of wind and a high snow line = locally HIGH (4) avalanche danger
  • Sun in the northern Alps on Friday
  • Snow for the southern and western Alps from Friday
  • Long term is still a riddle

Serre Che
Serre Che


Val Thorens this morning
Val Thorens this morning

More snowfall in the forecast

The weather in Europe is dictated by the jet stream coming from the west at the moment. Storm after storm uses this 'weather highway' to travel to the Alps and this resulted in the turbulent and constantly changing weather the last couple of days. The temperature started to rise from the west on Wednesday (after all the snow on Tuesday and some sunshine on Wednesday) and it started to snow (and later started to rain) in the west and north of the Alps.

Warm front last night
Warm front last night

The freezing level locally rose to 1700 - 2000 meter in the night to Thursday and the snow line rose to 1200-1600 meters. Fortunately, a cold front came in during the night and this resulted in a dropping snow line again (900 - 1400 meter). You can expect 5-20 cm of fresh snow above 1500 meters.

Lots of wind and a high snow line = locally HIGH (4) avalanche danger

Due to the large amounts of fresh snow, wind and the fluctuating snow line the avalanche danger has risen to CONSIDERABLe or HIGH. Check out the local avalanche forecast this morning adapt your plans to it.

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Incoming southern Stau
Incoming southern Stau

Sun in the northern Alps on Friday

A very powerful low pressure system south of the British Isles is fuelling the current coming from the south. This results in mild air coming in from the south at first, causing a southern Föhn in the northern and western Alps with sunshine and lots of wind. The freezing level will rise to 2400 meters and the snow will get soaked.

At the same time clouds are coming in to the Italian Po-Valley and it will start to snow on the south side of the main alpine ridge by the end of the day. The temperatures are still pretty high on the north side of the main alpine ridge. The snow line on the south side of the main alpine ridge will drop to 1000 -1400 meters, but the freezing level will be around 1800 meters. A typical dump in the southern Alps.

Cold front on Saturday
Cold front on Saturday

Snow for the southern and western Alps from Friday

An active cold front will hit the southwest of the Alps on Saturday and will bring lots of snow in the west and south of the Alps. Details aren't quite clear, but the perspective is good. I would stick around in the Alps till Monday, because it looks like another storm will hit the Alps on Sunday. The most common weather models continuously show variable output and that has to do with the unpredictable nature of the front that will hit the Alps this weekend. Keywords are: snowfall in the south of the Alps, Monte Rosa-Gotthard-Maloja, retour d'est?, some leftovers for the west of the Alps, maybe snowfall at the border of Carinthia and northeastern Italy? More details tomorrow!

Long term is still a riddle

The leading weather models come with new calculations every 6 or 12 hours. They basically looked like politics the last couple of days. A new truth every day with shifting opinions. There is a simple explanation. The weather in Europe is dictated by a strong jet stream from the west at the moment. This highway for storms will sometimes change position and a shift to the north or south has enormous consequences. Some storms come in faster or slower as forecasted as well. The big question is what the jet stream is going to do after the weekend. Most models agree that the jet stream won't focus on the Alps anymore and that high pressure will take over. But when and how is still the question.

Stay stoked.


  • caluchko
    caluchko op 2 March 2017 · 09:15
    Vallorcine this Saturday - good idea or not? They certainly got a lot of snow the last few days.
  • elecas
    elecas op 2 March 2017 · 11:02
    Thanks for the report! Do you know something about snowfall in Eastern Alps and Tirol? This year it being completely a disaster in this area, the few storms that we had this winter were in the Western and Northern Alps! I have already break my skis twice freeriding rooks! 😞
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 2 March 2017 · 21:14
    @caluchko, to much wind on saturday. Vallorcine will be good as of Monday. Saturday you want to be in Airolo or some other hidden gem around the Monte Rosa-Simplon-Gotthard.

    @elecas it's a weird season so far. But it looks like as of Tuesday there might be a Nordstau moving in
    May the powder be with you.


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