PA #15: already 20-50 cm fresh snow

By meteomorris on 12 February 2018 · 0

It's snowing in the northwest of the Alps and more snow came down locally than expected. The cold air that arrived in the Alps last night created much more low density snow than expected. Around 20-50 cm of fresh snow already came down from the French northern Alps to the Austrian Vorarlberg and it is still snowing today. At the same time, the expected snow sandwich started and about 20-40 cm already came down in the Hohe Tauern and it's snowing heavily in the Alpe Adria since this morning. PowderAlert #15 is in effect today, Tuesday and Wednesday and the conditions will probably be great in the Alpe Adria on Thursday as well. Mild air will arrive in the Alps from Thursday and that marks the end of PowderAlert. In this forecast:

  • Already 20-50 cm fresh snow
  • Sun until Wednesday (and fresh snow)
  • An almost perfect PowderAlert
  • Please note: snowed in surface hoar will cause problems
  • PA#15: where to go?
  • Mild temperatures from Thursday

Already 20-50 cm fresh snow

It's snowing heavily in those areas that I had indicated as a sweetspot for PA #15. Between 20-50 cm of snow came down and some more centimeters will be added the next couple of hours.


Engelberg this morning
Engelberg this morning


Vogel Ski Center
Vogel Ski Center

Sun until Wednesday (and fresh snow)

There's still room for snowfall until Tuesday morning, but the sun is coming out from the north and west. It is possible that it might snow snow in the northwest in the night to Wednesday, but the sun dominates in large parts of the Alps during the day. It's cold and although the sun will influence all the snow on the southern faces, it will remain cold and fresh on northern faces.

An almost perfect PowderAlert

Check out the video forecast from last Friday above. PowderAlert #15 is developing just as we forecasted. In addition, PowderAlert #15 is almost a perfect PowderAlert. Check out this article why. There is more than 25 cm of snow coming down, cold snow follows after warm(er) snow, the snow falls on a soft layer in many places (but beware, it is surface hoar!) and the wind is calm on the lower parts of the mountain. Unfortunately, it's really crowded in the Alps right now. But with these tips you should definitely find a ski area where it is not that busy.

Please note: snowed in surface hoar will cause problems

I wrote yesterday: 'Take into account that fresh wind-drifted snow will be dropped on top of a layer of surface hoar. Wind, fresh snow and a potential sliding layer will cause the avalanche danger to rise again. Therefore check your local avalanche forecast in the coming days and adjust your plans to it.'

This snowed in surface hoar is mentioned in a number of avalanche forecasts today. Hoar is an invisible (because snowed in) danger and not even visible to experts. Keep that in mind when planning your lines.

PA#15: where to go?

The regions where you can find the best snow right now didn't change. Some great snow and the sun is coming out. But please take the snowed in hoar and the wind-drifted snow into account.

Mild temperatures from Thursday, long term uncertain

The jet stream is coming from the west this week, with shifting southwestern and northwestern components. The main current is coming from the west, but the small alternations make it difficult to indicate exactly how the path is going to be the next couple of days. The wind turns to the south when the new storm is arriving, but it's coming in really slow. The föhn chart for the western Alps says it all. The western Alps will have to deal with a southern Föhn (wind-drifted snow!) on Thursday and you expect the temperature to rise.

Föhn chart western Alps
Föhn chart western Alps

But the Föhn chart for the eastern Alps is much less pronounced in the current calculations. The supply of mild air from the south is not that strong in this chart.

A front arrives from the west when the mild air comes in. This front will bring precipitation to the northern French Alps and the rest of the northern Alps. The mild air already arrived in the western Alps and you can expect the snow line to rise (for now it will end up at 1600-1900 meters). It stays cold a bit longer and the snow line won't rise that fast (and won't end up that high) in the eastern Alps. The precipitation will come down longer in the form of snow in the valleys. The coming 48 hours will teach us how this scenario will develop. After this front, a new front could arrive during the weekend with snow for the northwest and the orth of the Alps. Snow line and amounts of snow are still unclear.

My advice for the next couple of days:

  • Take advantage of PowderAlert #15 on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Thursday will be mild with lots of snow for the high alpine, but rain in the valleys
  • Prepare yourself for the worst and perhaps it won't be too bad
  • Hold your horses for later this week

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Stay stoked. Morris


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