Storm Yves brought the Alps the best start of the winter of this century. You can find a decent base everywhere in the Alps right now. And another 50-100 cm of snow will come down in the western and northern Alps. PowderAlert #6 is ON, but keep an eye on the local avalanche forecast the next couple of days. In this forecast:
Storm Yves left Greenland on Saturday afternoon, was positioned west of the Alps yesterday and is already over Scandinavia tomorrow. This storm has completely changed the appearance of the Alps in less than 48 hours. It was a huge roller coaster and the results were perfect. It snowed heavily in the French Alps, the Italian Aosta, the north and west of Switzerland and the Austrian Vorarlberg on Sunday. Between 20-60 cm of snow came down, but in the French Alps, the west of Switzerland and the west of the Aosta they locally even had a meter. I was in the Arlberg on Sunday and saw the storm coming in, and it started to snow heavily. The reports came in on the PowderQuest app, via Facebook and on wePowder ... Pure euphoria. At the same time, all the lifts on the Austrian glaciers closed because of the strong Föhn from the south and I knew that it would not take long before it would rain in large parts of the Alps.
Yves produced a gigantic southern Stau from Sunday to Monday. The French northern Alps, the north of Switzerland and everything north of the main alpine ridge in Austria were faced with a rapidly rising snow line and hurricane winds. In a number of cases the snow line temporarily rose to 2700 meters on the north side of the Alps and it rained to about 1800 to 2500 meters. Fortunately, the cold front came in from the west by the end of the afternoon and the snow line quickly dropped. Because of the speed with which the warm air came in, but also disappeared again, the consequences for the snow cover have remained limited. Another 20-50 cm of fresh snow is already reported from the northern Alps at an altitude of about 1400 meters. At the same time it snowed like crazy on the south side of the main alpine ridge with locally huge differences regarding the snow line.
According to the avalanche forecasts from Meteo France, between 120-200 cm of snow (locally even 270 cm) came down above 2100 meters in the French southern Alps since Sunday.
There were huge differences in the snow line. In the Pelvoux and Thabor (just south and east of the Ecrins) it remained much colder and it snowed deep into the valleys. The snow cover grew enormously. Below a photo of Serre Chevalier from Saturday and today.
I wonder where Meteo France measured that 270 cm. I have looked at many webcams, talked to locals and consulted monitoring stations, but I didn't find the 270 cm anywhere. Now Meteo France is not really an example of an open model, but if someone can give me the source of that 270 cm that would be great. I personally stick to about 50-120 cm of fresh snow above 2000 meters with local peaks towards 150 to 170 centimeters in the stau regions of the southern Ecrins.
The snow line was going up and down. It was much colder in the south and east of the Ecrins (because of the orographic cooling and the cold air in the valleys), and it snowed deep into the valleys. More to the south and west (where the peaks aren't that high and the valleys are more open so that the wind could push out the cold air) the snow line was much higher and it rained to about 1900-2200 meters. The snow cover has become wet at high altitude. Check out the images from Super Devoluy. On the left is Sunday, in the middle the rain from Monday and the right is from Tuesday morning with a little layer of fresh snow on a completely soaked snow cover.
You can find tree runs with dry powder in the French Alps (because of the high snow line) especially in the Pelvoux, the Thabor and the east of the Queyras. The western Piedmont also has good conditions. Everything came together between the Mont Viso, the Frejus Tunnel and the border with the French Haute Maurienne. The cold air was trapped by the wind from the southeast in this part of the Alps, the orographic cooling did its job and there was a continuous supply of humid air. Especially in Bardonecchia it snowed heavily and deep into the valleys.
The western Piedmont got between 70-150 cm of fresh snow, But more to the south and north of the Piedmont they 'only' got about 30-60 cm. A lot of snow also came down in the other regions of the southern Alps and the resorts in the main alpine ridge yesterday. The snow line was between 1600 and 1900 meters and the snow cover is pretty wet to about 2000 meters.
The cold front reached the Alps on Monday afternoon. The snow line dropped rapidly in the French northern Alps and the west and north of Switzerland. It also dropped in Austria last night. Another 20-35, locally 50 cm of cold snow came down between Chambery and Vorarlberg. Less snow came down more to the east (Tyrol, Salzburgerland and Styria) below 2000 meters, but there is already a good base above 2000 meters.
The sun comes out from the west today and Wednesday will be a day with lots of sun and lots of fresh snow. But because of the changing temperatures, the strong wind, the rain and the snow, the avalanche situation is currently critical in large parts of the Alps. I would temporarily avoid the high alpine and opt for tree runs. But where will you find tree runs with fresh and dry powder tomorrow?
Bluebird conditions with lots of fresh snow tomorrow. It's time to ride powder between the trees in:
A new storm is heading to the Alps on Wednesday evening and it's clearly focussing on the western Alps. A warm front which will result in a rising snow line in the northern Alps (towards 1700 meter, but much lower in the southern Alps) will kick, but a cold front with dropping temperatures will come in in the course of Thursday.
You can ride powder in the regions above on Thursday, but keep in mind that the snow can become a bit slushy on the lower parts of the mountain. It will continue to snow in the northwest of the Alps in the night to Friday. The current turns to the northwest again and the supplied air is cold.
It will remain cold in the Alps until Sunday. In addition, unstable air is supplied from the northwest, so you can expect more cold and fresh snow on the north side of the main alpine ridge between Friday and Sunday.
Are we going to have a white Christmas? A good question of which the answer is written somewhere in the stars above. The models are suggesting rising temperatures after the weekend. A current from the southwest might kick in. If that will actually happen? I might have the answer by the end of the week.
Stay stoked, Morris