PA#5 this weekend and more snow in the forecast!

By meteomorris on 6 December 2017 · 4

We're facing an interesting period. It's sunny in the Alps today, but you can expect a roller coaster of storm depressions from Friday. This is all caused by a high pressure area that's moving south, which gives the jetstream a more western component and brings storms from the Atlantic Ocean to the Alps. PowderAlert #5 is in effect this weekend. In this forecast:

  • Silence before the storm
  • Storm Walter brings us PowderAlert #5
  • The second storm is brought to you by a jetstream from the west
  • The third storm is also on the maps
  • Tips for the weekend

Silence before the storm

Thanks to a high pressure area it's sunny in the Alps today. It doesn't really matter if you look at the webcams of Tignes/Val d'Isère, the webcams of Engelberg, of St. Anton am Arlberg, of Obertauern or the ones in Sella Nevea, you'll see a picture perfect winter. Sun, lots of snow and blue skies. It starts to feel like winter!

There are some resorts that could use a bit more snow. If you look at the webcams of Vars-Risoul in the French southern Alps, Zermatt in Wallis or the Monte Rosa ski area in in the northern Piedmont, you'll see that they'll need a storm or two to ride in the backcountry. Especially the French southern Alps, Aosta, the northern Piedmont, Ober Wallis (Haute Valais), Ticino, the Engadin and Lombardia need more snow. The storm of this weekend will not bring salvation, but maybe the next one will.

Storm Walter brings us PowderAlert #5

Storm Walter is visible on the maps. There will be a strong current from the north-northwest coming in and that current will bring lots of snow and cold air. Check out the three images below. The image on the left shows the jet stream. The red river is aimed at the northwest of the Alps and sends clouds towards the Alps. Those clouds hit the Alps, can't go anywhere, are forced to rise and snow empty. It becomes very cold. The second image shows the temperature at 1500 meters altitude and it won't be any warmer than -10 degrees on Saturday. That's cold if you ask me. In addition, you can expect some heavy snowfall (as you can see in the third image).

Next weekend will look like this:

  • Thursday: silence before the storm. The warm front arrives in the night to Friday and the cold front will kick in right after. The snow line will drop from 1800 to 1500 meters.
  • Friday: You can expect some heavy snowfall from the north of the French southern Alps, via the French northern Alps, the west and north of Switzerland and the west of Austria. The snow line will drop to 600 meters (and later even into the deepest valleys) in the northwest. At the same time it snows in the west of the Dolomites, but especially on the border of Italy, Slovenia and Austria. There will be a second front from the north coming in during the afternoon and it will start to snow in the northern Alps. The night to Saturday will be really cold.
  • Saturday: It will continue to snow in the northern Alps from time to time on Saturday, with some sunny spells every now and then. The sun shines on the south side of the main alpine ridge. It is cold in the entire Alps.
  • Sunday: The day starts with room for the sun in the entire Alps. But a new front will hit the Alps in the afternoon. You can expect a Föhn on the north side of the Alps, but the clouds will come in in the west and the south and it will start to snow. It's the prelude to a new storm.

Yellow spots on the north side of the main alpine ridge indicate the Föhn wind
Yellow spots on the north side of the main alpine ridge indicate the Föhn wind

The second storm is brought to you by a jetstream from the west

The jet stream first came from the north, but it will come from the west,from Sunday (and the devil will be in the details). Check out the jet stream in the image on the left. According to the latest calculations, it has a western-southwestern component. It will result in a Föhn for the north side of the main alpine ridge on Sunday afternoon (check out the green strip on the right map) and orographic cooling on the south side of the main alpine ridge.

It starts to snow in the French southern Alps, on the south side of the Alps and in the French northern Alps. With the arrival of the warmer air, the snow line in the French northern Alps first rises on Sunday evening, but at the same time it will drop in the French southern Alps and in the Southern Alps due to the orographic cooling. The expected snowfall for Sunday evening (left), Monday (middle) and Tuesday (right) looks like this:

But because it's still pretty far into the future it's definitely subject to change. A small change in the path of the jet stream turns everything upside down. But for now it is as follows: Föhn and an incoming warm front with precipitation for the French Alps and southern Alps on Sunday. A warm front with precipitation in the western and southern Alps on Monday, then a cold front and precipitation for the northwest, but still Föhn winds in the north of Austria. Expect incoming cold air and snowfall on the north side again on Tuesday. But again, small changes can have big effects. That is why I advise you to wait for my next weather forecast.

The third storm is also on the maps

The jet stream keeps coming from the west and that means that you can expect more snow in the western Alps. More details later.

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Tips for the weekend

Rising temperatures on Thursday, dropping temperatures on Friday, very cold on Saturday and a bit warmer on Sunday. Because of changing wind directions you can expect snow to be transported and fronts to come in fast. Not perfect for a ski tour, but freeriding is definitely an option. Continuous snowfall in the northwest on Friday, possibly some sun on Saturday and some sun at the beginning of the day on Sunday. You'll have to be in the French northern Alps, the west and north of Switzerland and the Austrian Vorarlberg to ride good powder. It will also be good in Tyrol, the Salzburgerland and Styria from Saturday afternoon. Because of the bad visibility ski areas with trees are recommended.

Stay stoked, Morris


  • Chester_Tartsnatcher
    Chester_Tartsnatcher op 6 December 2017 · 16:28
    Looking a lot better for France. Perhaps better coverage along the Romanche.
  • jonnoyo
    jonnoyo op 6 December 2017 · 22:10
    where can we go for a long weekend this weekend moris? La clusaz only open for the weekend??
  • zechariahhahn
    zechariahhahn op 7 December 2017 · 00:10
    Again Livigno dodges the storm... Why is it so hard for snow to get there?
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 7 December 2017 · 08:02
    @zechariahhahn the warm sector that moves in is to much WSW. Jetstream is to much W for the next few days.

    @jonnoyo, you mean in France?
    @Chester_Tartsnatcher For sure
    May the powder be with you.


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