The period of deep winter comes to an end. The jetstream will shift its course and the freezing level will start shifting. This is already happening this week in the eastern Alps, but from Boxing day in the entire Alps. The temperature will rise and you'll notice that especially below 1200-1600 with sometimes rain up to mid-mountain and sometimes snow deep into the valleys. In this forecast:
I was riding powder in the west of Austria the last couple of days. Last weekend I was in the Arlberg regions and the conditions were already good, but it was even better last weekend. The base is thick and with 35-50 cm cold and dry snow that came down we were able to ride deep powder for a couple of days. Our base camp was in Mellau and we've visited some tiny gems in the region. Check out some images below:
A base of two meters at 1700 meter is unprecedented. Even the locals were impressed. An older man who operated a slow but very authentic two-seater chair told us that in the 39 years that he was working for the resort, he had never seen so that much snow during this period of the year. We have rarely seen the sun, but that was compensated by the great snow. We could even find some Canadian style pillows.
Today is a perfect day in the Alps. The sun is shining everywhere and the conditions are still great after all that fresh snow in the northern and western Alps that came down the last couple of days. It's not crowded yet, but that will change this weekend. I understand that holidays are a scarce commodity, but I can definitely recommend you to visit the Alps in off-season and avoid the busy holiday period.
Back to the present. Our cloud maps on the forecast page show perfectly that the Alps finally see sunshine everywhere. But not for long. A warm front (the red line on the map above) is on its way to the Alps. This warm front will arrive on Thursday and will ensure an increase in the freezing level on Thursday and Friday. At the same time clouds are coming into the Alps and the air is getting very humid. This has two consequences. The humid air pulls into the snow cover and makes it heavier and secondly and the snow line will rise in the areas where there is precipitation. I expect snowfall from Gstaad to the east of Austria, but the center of gravity will be in the east of the Alps. I expect up to half a meter of fresh snow above 1300-1600 meters. particularly east of Innsbruck.
The snow line will rise towards 1500 meters or even temporarily a bit higher in the west of the Alps (in Vorarlberg around 1200-1500 meters and east of Innsbruck around 900-1300 meters). I expect the highest temperatures in the night from Thursday to Friday and Friday morning. It cools down after that and it will snow lightly deep into the valleys. The snow cover will get a blow from the rain on Thursday and Friday morning, but obviously will not disappear immediately.
The sun will shine on Saturday and Sunday, but due to the warm upper air layers it will be mild in the Alps. The freezing level will rise to 1700-2000 meters during the day, but the snow will still be okay because the air is still pretty dry and the nights are cold and clear. I expect PowderAlert #8 for parts of Austria this weekend. More details on Thursday.
A new storm cycle will start on Christmas Day with a jetstream that's situated north of the Alps, that generates mild air and then returns to the south. It's a rhythm where the snow line start shifting up and down. This type of weather will dominate the Alps from Christmas. You can expect a southern Stau, a western Stau, snow sandwiches and cold snow from the north.
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Stay stoked, Morris