PA #11 is for the southern Alps, the western and northern Alps will follow right after!

By meteomorris on 3 March 2017 · 3

This turbulent week that brought us three storms will go out with a bang. The southern Alps will get hammered this weekend (PowderAlert #11), the western Alps can expect snowfall in the beginning of next week and in the northern Alps will get some snow in the middle of next week. High pressure will take over after that. It means a week with powder in all the regions in the Alps and with some windows to go out on a tour at the end of the week. But watch out! Powder panic is high, the winter hasn't been that good and the snowpack is still unstable. In this forecast:

  • PA#11 is for the southern Alps
  • Where to go?
  • Snow for the western Alps from Monday
  • Snow for the northern Alps after Monday?
  • Powder panic and an unstable snowpack

Storm Xaver
Storm Xaver

PA#11 is for the southern Alps

An active storm depression (storm Xaver) with a core south of the British Isles will start a current from the south on Friday. This will result in a lot of moisture that will hit the southern side of the Alps, while the northern and western Alps will have to deal with a strong Föhn.

It's sunny everywhere today, but clouds will fill the Po-valley pretty soon. It will start to snow south of the Gotthard and it will snow heavily in the western and northern Piedmont, Ticino and northern Lombardy by midnight.

A very active front will arrive on Saturday morning, and it will travel to the Piedmont through the French southern Alps. It will snow heavily in the western and northern Piedmont, Ticino and northern Lombardy by noon, but the border regions will get some snow as well. The snowfall will extend into the Dolomites and the south of Carinthia later that afternoon. The snowline will be around 1200-1500 meters at first, but will drop to 900-1200 meters during Saturday.

At the same time, a strong Föhn storm is hammering the western and northern Alps. You can expect gusts between 90 and 140 km/h on the peaks. You can expects some lifts to close. The temperature will rise to 2 to 10 degrees at 2000 meters.

Föhn and high temperatures
Föhn and high temperatures

Fortunately, the Föhn will be gone by the end of Saturday. You can expect some light snowfall in the French northern Alps, northwestern Switzerland and northwestern Austria in the night to Sunday. But noteworthy? No.

More snow will come down in the southern Alps on Sunday, in particular in the northern Piedmont, Ticino, Lombardia, the Dolomites and southern Carinthia. The expected amounts of fresh snow? Expect 50-100 cm in the triangle Monterosa-Simplon-Gotthard and 40-70 cm southeast of the Gran Paradiso and the summits between Carinthia, the Alpi di Giulia and Slovenia. The weekend will be a powder weekend in the southern Alps.

Where to go?

All those regions don't really stand out because of the huge amounts of snow this winter. And February didn't really help. The result is that you won't find a base everywhere. You can only find a base on south facing slopes from about 2,000 meters or higher, while the base on the other expositions is pretty thin. You're looking for resorts with lots of north facing slopes this weekend. It will snow heavily on Saturday and it will keep on snowing on Sunday. The dump will come in three phases. Saturday will already be pretty good in the triangle Monte Rosa-Simplon-Gotthard and southeast of the Gran Paradiso, while it will be on in the resorts between Carinthia, the Alpi di Giulia and Slovenia from Sunday.

You can think of resorts like:

  • Airolo
  • Champorcher
  • Via Lattea
  • Monte Rosa (not really a base in the trees)
  • Andermatt (from Sunday)
  • Nassfeld (from Sunday)
  • Sella Nevea (from Sunday)

Of course there are more options as well, so keep on searching and you might find some great snow to ride. You probably won't find that great snow in the northern and western Alps this weekend. Those regions got a lot of fresh snow last week, but the Föhn and the high temperatures really influenced the snow cover. And if you don't want to travel to the southern Alps you'll have to be patient, because the western and northern Alps will get their share as well.

The western Alps from Sunday night
The western Alps from Sunday night

Snow for the western Alps from Monday

It will start snowing in the western Alps on Sunday night and it will continue to snow on Monday and Tuesday. Warm and cold fronts will continue to come in, so it will be a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Especially since there will also be a lot of wind. More details about that on Sunday.

Snow for the northern Alps after Monday?

The models are indicating an incoming high pressure system that will keep the storms away from the Alps, but that will allow some snowfall in the northern Alps before the weather will come to a rest. It would conclude a good storm cycle. Powder for everybody and high pressure will bring some stable weather back to the Alps.

Powder panic and an unstable snowpack

There's a lot of powder panic in the Alps. That might be because of the poor winter, but also because of the fact that it's peak season. Sometimes you'll just have to be patient. The result is that some faces will be tracked, but let it be... The best freerider is an old freerider.

Please, keep asking yourself the following 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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Have a great weekend and ride with care.

Stay stoked. Morris


  • dpenn
    dpenn op 5 March 2017 · 18:36
    Andermatt lived up to the snow expectations! Easily 50cm at mid-mountain, and they said 75cm up top.....what I didn't realize is that the Gemsstock (upper mountain) doesn't open after big storms. Bluebird today, which only made the untouched snow that much more painful to see. Locals on the chairlift told me this was normal after big dumps, at least for the last handful of years ("back in the day", they said it'd always open and even more recently open "at your own risk" but not anymore). So: careful to anyone else who follows the Andermatt recommendations. Depending on the snow tonight, I heard predictions that it would open first thing tomorrow, midday tomorrow, or not at all tomorrow....still, lots of fun to be found on the 2 midmountain lifts - thanks Morris for the advise!
  • Bjarmann
    Bjarmann op 6 March 2017 · 08:28
    Need an update, please! What do you recommend for Tuesday and Wednesday. France is to far away but anything else is ok.
  • Carla
    Carla op 6 March 2017 · 17:49
    We had already given up on this snow-free winter, considering that we live too far from the west part of the alps that this year seemed to receive all the fresh snow...

    Then we followed your powder alert for Nassfels (from Sunday, you wrote), and here we are: yesterday we found so much fresh snow that it seemed paradise, and today even better: fresh snow and blue sky!!!!

    THANK YOU for your advise: you made our season!


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