The winter has a perfect start in the Alps. And it was about time, because the last three winters weren't that good. The snow came too early or simply didn't come at all. But so far so good. And there's a new storm cycle coming up with lots of snow for the northern Alps. This results in warm air and rain in the valleys at first, but the current will come from the north from Sunday. The temperature will drop and the snow will fall deep into the valleys. The sun will come out by the middle of next week and there's a chance that PowderAlert #1 will be issued this weekend. In this forecast:
The last snow is coming down south of the main alpine ridge today. There are some clouds in the Po-valley (check out the picture below) and the weak eastern current is pushing those clouds against the mountains in the Piedmont. It's the last activity of the 'retour d'est', which brought a lot of snow to the southern side of the main alpine ridge since Sunday.
There was so much snow coming down that some resorts in the Piedmont will open earlier than scheduled. Prato Nevoso opens on 18 november all its lifts and that is pretty unique for a ski area just 100 kilometers from the Mediterranean. The sun is shining in the rest of the Alps today and the webcam views of the Stubaier glacier look awesome.
Friday morning starts sunny in the Alps, but that's about the only time the Alps can enjoy some sunshine the next five days. There could be some residual clouds in the valleys. A new low-pressure area will hit the northwest of the Alps on Friday afternoon. This will cause the snow line to rise on Saturday. There's still a western component in the isobar lines on Friday and Saturday (the red arrow on the maps below), and the Alps have to deal with some warmer air (the yellow/orange color on the second map). The freezing level will be pretty high. This means that the precipitation on Friday and Saturday will only come down as snow above 1400-1700 meters. The snow line is lower in the east of Austria. You don't have to expect any precipitation in the southern Alps.
There is a strong (south)western wind on the peaks on Saturday that will get stronger during the day. Most of the snow will come down at high elevation on Friday and Saturday and especially in the northwest of the Alps. The most snow will come down from the French northern Alps to Vorarlberg on Saturday.
According to the latest calculations, the cold front that will hit the Alps is expected around breakfast on Sunday. That might change a bit the next 72 hours. It will take some hours for the cold air to reach the main alpine ridge. The temperature will rapidly drop and the wind will turn from the west to the north when the cold front comes in. It starts to snow to deep into the valleys. It is expected that the snow line will be around 500 meters on Sunday afternoon/evening, and that it will even snow in the lowest valleys on Monday. Winter is here. The southern Alps will have to deal with a Föhn from the north. Thanks to the incoming cold air it will be pretty cold, but you don't have to expect any snowfall south of the main alpine ridge.
It will keep on snowing on the north side of the main alpine ridge until Tuesday. The biggest question mark is where the center of gravity will be. The models now calculate the heaviest snowfall between Hasliberg in Switzerland and the Kleinwalsertal on the border of Austria and Germany. I still expect some changes in the details, especially for the time frame from Sunday afternoon till Tuesday.
You can expect strong winds, lots of snow, an initially high snowline and bad visibility on the glaciers. Saturday morning can still be quite okay on the Austrian glaciers, but after that I expect the weather to become worse. Wednesday will be the day. Lots of fresh snow, sunshine and between 40 and 90 cm of fresh snow. There might be a chance that the first PowderAlert of the season will be issued on Wednesday! There will be some side notes, but the the forecast looks good. I'll probaby won't go riding myself. The snow cover next to the slopes is still a bit thin and the rocks, stones and branches are not far away. A bite in your P-tex is annoying, an injury or fracture is even worse. The same goes for the glaciers. It was warm last summer and many crevasses are hiding themselves like a sniper waiting to take you out. In short: keep calm. How attractive the snow cover might look, an injury will impact the rest of your season. And I really want a long season this winter!
There is a lot of dynamics in the weather models at the moment and the output after day six differs from day to day. It's typical for the late autumn. Let's hope that the models will remain this dynamic the next couple of weeks. The best thing that can happen are a number of storm cycles instead of a miserable high pressure area like we had to deal with the last couple of seasons.
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Stay stoked Morris