The Alps are dealing with weather coming in from the southwest. Three fronts are hammering the southwestern Alps. The first front came in in the night from Wednesday to Thursday and brought 30-60 cm of snow to the southwest of the Alps (and 10-30 cm to the northern French Alps and the far west of Switzerland). A second and weaker front will arrive in the southwest of the Alps in the night from Thursday to Friday and will bring 10-30 cm of fresh. It started to snow in the Piedmont on Thursday evening. Cold air is coming in on Friday and the third front will arrive from the southwest in the night to Saturday. The weather calms down on Sunday and more storms will hit the south(west) of the Alps from Monday. In this forecast:
It started snowing on Wednesday afternoon in the French southern Alps and the bordering areas in the Italian Piedmont. This snow came down while it was still really cold. The result was 30-60 cm of fresh cold smoke blower pow.
We found some great snow today (again) in the Via Lattéa and it might be peak season, we had first tracks in the Pattemouche Couloir and found deep snow in the endless larch forests in La Via Lattea.
It was nice to see the complexity of the weather at the end of the afternoon. It was still -11 in the valley, while it was -6 on the mountain. During our descents we passed various layers in the atmosphere. Sometimes very cold, then relatively mild, which created an interesting cloud pattern and even some 'freezing rain' on our goggles. By the end of the day it started to snow again.
A front from the southwest arrived a little earlier than expected. This resulted in snow into the valleys in the southwest and the Italian Piedmont, but in the northern French Alps it's a bit more complex. There is also cold air in the valleys, but a strong wind from the south had its effect in some valleys. The air in the north is therefore milder in the night to Friday. The snow line will temporarily rise to 1600 meters in the valleys where the cold air has disappeared. Colder air comes in from the north in the course of the morning and the clouds move towards the east, which provides snow in the Dolomites and via Switzerland to the Austrian Vorarlberg.
The combination of wind, snow and changing snow lines has its influence on the snow cover. It was still really loose in the trees in the southwest, but it will start to set locally as well. Especially above the tree line where the air is a bit milder and the wind stronger. The new snow falls on top of very cold powder which will result an explosive snow pack. This will be the case above the tree line, but also in those parts of the trees where the wind can influence the snow. So please be careful. Nevertheless, it's another powder day in the southwest again. Especially when the sun comes out again in the course of the afternoon.
There's not enough fresh snow coming down (or it's falling too late) in the rest of the Alps (northern French Alps, Switzerland, Dolomites), there's a Föhn wind or the snowpack is a bit wet due to the rain (parts of the Swiss Alps and the northern French Alps). It will be sunny in Austria, but the wind will be stronger, so touring won't be an option.
A third and slightly weaker front will arrive on Saturday. The biggest problem will be the warm air that flows into the Alps afterwards. The snow is getting heavier and faces that were still fine on Thursday may suddenly start to slide. Do not underestimate the effects of a rise in temperature. Nevertheless a powder day in the southwest even though the snow in the lower parts of the larch forests will become a bit wet. The sun will dominate on Sunday and it's becomes mild. Please be careful. Clouds will come in from the southwest later that day. It's the prelude to PA #20.
The avalanche risk will rise to HIGH (4 on a scale of 5) in large parts of the Alps (thanks to all the new snow). The combination of a lot of snow, a build-up from cold to mild, strong wind in the high alpine and rising temperatures results in a rising avalanche risk. Please read the local avalanche forecast and adapt your plans to it.
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Front 2 en 3 brengen boven de 1500-2000 meter nog eens zo'n 20-40 lokaal 50 cm verse sneeuw. Vanaf zaterdag wordt het snel milder en zonnig. Tot en met zaterdag geldt PA#19 voor:
The second and third storm will bring another 20-40, locally 50 cm of snow above 1500-2000 meters. The temperature will rise and the sun will come out after Saturday. PA #19 is ON until Saturday for:
A new storm is coming in on Sunday evening. The current is still coming from the southwest to south with lots of snow for the southern French Alps, but also for the rest of the southern Alps at the start of the week. There's a strong Föhn wind in the north and it's mild. There will be room for a cold front only in the middle of next week. You'll find the best snow in the southwest or the south of the Alps in the beginning of next week. The details for PowderAlert #20 will follow this weekend.
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Stay stoked. Morris