PA #3: It's ON like Donkey Kong this weekend!

By meteomorris on 30 November 2017 · 0

Large parts of the northern Alps are having the best start of the winter in years and you can already find 80-150 cm of snow at an altitude of 2000 meters between the Junfgrau Region in the west and the Kleinwalsertal in the east. More snow came down yesterday, it's still snowing lightly today and the sun will try to come out this weekend. This is a weekend in the northern Alps you don't want to miss. PowderAlert #3 is in effect in the northern Alps and in the triangle Austria/Italy/Slovenia.

At the same time it is snowing heavily in the Italian Piedmont on Friday and especially on Saturday. A low-pressure area nestles itself south of the Alps and the current from the east will a lot of fresh snow. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be powder days. PowderAlert #4 is for the Italian Piedmont and is in effect from Saturday.

I'd go to the Alps this weekend. The conditions will be really good and it's hard to say if next weekend will be as good as this one. In this forecast:

  • More snow for the northern Alps
  • Perfect conditions, but where to go?
  • Retour d'est from Friday
  • Lots of snowfall in the Piedmont, but where to go?
  • Long term: rising temperatures or a Stau from the south with the return of cold air?

More snow for the northern Alps

It's been snowing in the northern Alps since Wednesday, especially in the Swiss northern Alps, Vorarlberg and the German Alps. The Hohe Tauern in the Salzburgerland and the areas in the northeast of Styria also experienced some heavy snowfall. Between 15-40 cm of fresh snow already came down and I expect the 50 cm mark will be reached with the snowfall today. It also snowed in the valleys thanks to the dropping temperatures. Engelberg looks like a fairytale today, just like a lot of other resorts in the northern Alps.

It also snowed in the triangle Slovenia, Italy and Austria. Between 20-40 cm of fresh snow came down in the ski resorts in the south of Carinthia, the north of the Alpi di Giullia and the northwest of Slovenia in the last 24 hours. It snowed deep into the valleys here as well.

Where to go? Check out where to go during PowderAlert #3 in this article.

Perfect conditions, but where to go?

The sun will come out in the triangle Slovenia, Italy and Austria this weekend. It will be cold and a lot of snow came down, so the riding will be really good. Think of ski areas like Nassfeld and Vogel. If the weather is good, the riding will also be good in the areas north of the northern Swiss alpine ridge and in the Austrian Vorarlberg. It's getting a bit colder here, but if the sun comes out on Saturday and Sunday it will be great there as well. Ski Arlberg is opening this weekend, so expect crowds, just like in Engelberg. But there are plenty of alternatives. Don't forget the ski areas around the Hohe Tauern in the Salzburgerland, such as Kaprun and Obertauern and last but not least the snow magnetes Tauplitz and Loser in Styria. Keep in mind that there will be clouds coming in on Sunday, but it's not sure if it will snow as well.

Lots of snow in Montafon
Lots of snow in Montafon

It's still early season

Remember that it is still early season and there are three risks that you have to take into account:

  1. There are still plenty of crevasses on the glaciers that haven't been snowed in.
  2. There's plenty of snow, but the snow cover can still be a bit thin locally. Think about rocks and branches that could result in injuries.
  3. When there's enough snow to ride, there's enough snow to slide: avalanches

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Retour d'est Everything you want to know about a retour d'est. Check out this article

Retour d'est from Friday

A low pressure area nestles south of the Alps in the night from Thursday to Friday. This Genoa low triggers a retour d'est. A current from the east pushes a mix of cold air and moisture from the Mediterranean Sea towards the Alps. Once the clouds are trapped in the Po-valley, they can only hit the Alps and are forced to snow empty. Snow quantities between 50 and 150 cm are possible in 48 hours, especially because the air is cold and contains a lot of moisture because of the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea.

Lots of snowfall in the Piedmont, but where to go?

This is already the second retour d'est this winter. The first one already brought a meter of snow in early November and now you can locally expect another meter. The center of gravity of the precipitation is calculated in the night from Friday to Saturday and most of the snow is expected in the western and southern Piedmont. And exactly those parts of the Piedmont already have a base layer. The precipitation decreases in intensity in the course of Saturday and it will be sunny on Sunday. It will be a good day on Sunday west and south of the Piedmont. But just like in the northern Alps, not all ski areas are open yet. Check out where to find the best snow and open lifts in this article.

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Keep in mind that it has not snowed since the beginning of November and the base is pretty hard. That means you will basically still feel the base after the light snowfall on Friday and Saturday. When the snow cover settles in the course of Saturday and Sunday due to the mass of the snow and the sun, the conditions will quickly improve. It will be so deep in some places that you'll probably won't feel the base on Saturday.

Long term: rising temperatures or a Stau from the south with the return of cold air?

The really low temperatures will draw back from the Alps after the weekend. Under the influence of a high pressure area it gets a bit warmer, but still cold enough to maintain the snow fresh. What happens after the middle of next week is still a big mystery. The models really go back and forth. I have already seen snow coming in from the south and rising temperatures, again a Stau from the north, a snow sandwich and a retour d'est. Let's see what happens. I do not expect to be able to give you a realistic scenario no earlier than Sunday. For the short term: enjoy the powder and ride smart!

Stay stoked Morris


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