PA #11: up to 2 meters of fresh snow

By meteomorris on 16 January 2018 · 6

A super storm with a core pressure of 960 hPa determines the weather in the Alps in the coming days. A lot of snow comes down until next weekend and the Alps will have to deal with strong wind and a HIGH avalanche danger. The hunt for powder demands flexibility, restraint and trees the next couple of days. And we mean a lot of trees to get some kind of visibility. Keep in mind that lifts will close because of the strong wind, but also because of the rapidly rising avalanche danger. In this forecast:

  • Super storm Evi
  • Lots of fresh snow
  • HIGH avalanche danger
  • Where to go?

Superstorm Evi

A strong jet stream between superstorm Evi in the north of Europe and a high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean will focus on the Alps the next couple of days. The result is that the Alps will get a lot of snow, but also a lot of wind. The image above first shows storm Evi, you can see the jet stream (the dark red river with the blue arrow in it) at the bottom left and the map at the bottom right shows the wind speed (red/pink is more than 70 km/h). The wind will be coming from the southwest to northwest with wind speeds of up to 120 km/h above 2000 meters until Friday. During the passages of the warm fronts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the wind will have a southwestern component in it. But with the arrival of the cold fronts on Wednesday and Friday, the wind turns to the northwest.

Lots of fresh snow

Because the jetstream is fully focused on the northwest of the Alps, the most snow will come down here for the next four days. There is a lot of snow coming down in the northern French Alps and the west of Switzerland in particular. The rhythm will look something like this:

  • Incoming warm front and a rising snow line (between 1200 and 1500 meter) and lots of wind on Tuesday. The most snow will come down in the French northern Alps, western Wallis, the Gotthard region and Vorarlberg.
  • The cold front will come in (and a strong wind) in the night to Wednesday. You can expect continuous snowfall with the current coming from the northwest on Wednesday. You can expect the most snow in the northern French Alps, the west of Switzerland, everything north of the northern Swiss alpine ridge, Vorarlberg and the north stau areas in the Salzburgerland and Styria.
  • Turbulent weather on Thursday, lots of wind and a rising snow line
  • Colder on Friday (still a strong wind) and snow deep into the valleys

You can expect about 100-150 cm, locally even 200 cm of fresh snow in the northern French Alps and western Switzerland. In the rest of the northern Alps this will be about 20-50 cm, locally 80 cm.

Take care: HIGH avalanche danger

Lots of fresh snow, fluctuating temperatures and a lot of wind. That is a cocktail that guarantees a rapidly rising avalanche danger. Add that a considerable layer of surface hoar has developed in many places in the Alps the last few days and all conditions for a very tricky situation are there. The avalanche danger in parts of the French Alps has risen to HIGH and there's a realistic chance that this will happen in other parts of the Alps as well. Because of the wind and the increasing avalanche danger, flexibility is a must because you can not ride powder everywhere. Take it easy! I still have some additions to make a choice where to go:

  • Choose resorts with lots of tree runs. There is sometimes less wind in the forests lower on the mountain.
  • Stay away from those parts of the mountain where larger, open and steep faces are located, because they are now extremely dangerous
  • Listen to snow patrol and read the avalanche forecast!

Where and when to go?

Skip Tuesday and wait for Wednesday. The wind is less strong and the snow line drops. Ride powder below the tree line. It will be quite dangerous above the tree line. Stay away from the faces that are too steep and pick a face that's not that steep with trees. You'll find plenty of them in the northwest. Thursday may be even worse. It will be temporarily warmer, with a lot of wind and fresh snow. Thursday will be a challenging day. It will be colder again from Friday and you could ride tree runs in the northern French Alps, the west and north of Switzerland and the Austrian Vorarlberg.

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Stay stoked, Morris


  • Chester_Tartsnatcher
    Chester_Tartsnatcher op 16 January 2018 · 09:28
    La Grave is closed today due to wind. About 10 cm of snow last night in town. Waiting to see if Serre Che is open.
  • michalkolcun
    michalkolcun op 16 January 2018 · 12:52
    Hi...what do you think about weather for weekend in zillertall austria..
  • DWF
    DWF op 16 January 2018 · 21:56
    Epic yet not so cool #complicated #unstable
  • sander_kan102
    sander_kan102 op 16 January 2018 · 22:48
    Pila today!
  • Brock22
    Brock22 op 17 January 2018 · 08:29
    Melchsee-frutt, near Engelberg is completely closed. Very high winds all night and huge snow drifts. Mountain stripped bare of snow leaving lots of exposed ice.
  • Chester_Tartsnatcher
    Chester_Tartsnatcher op 17 January 2018 · 09:18
    La Grave closed again as well as Chazelet. Monster winds last night shook our house and plastered the windows with snow


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