The weather is quite turbulent this week. You can still find some great snow till Thursday, but the temperature will rise rapidly due to a current from the south. There's a Stau from the south in the forecast with lots of snow (and rain) for the southern Alps from Saturday. It's not clear yet where the sweet spot will be, just as the snow line. In this forecast:
The meteorological spring has started on the first of March. The transition from winter to spring took place in the blink of an eye. The air temperature rose no less than 25 degrees in just 72 hours. That's a jacket or two.
The sudden rise of temperature had its effect on the snow pack. Warm snow came down on top of cold sliding layer especially in the western Alps. It's the ideal set up for avalanches. A lot of deadly avalanches came down the last couple of days. The sliding layer that caused all this mayhem is still present. Check out the video below which shows the current instability of the snow pack in the western Alps.
The expectation is that this can remain a problem, especially on cold, shady slopes. A point of attention here is the sun that now rises a little higher each day and is getting more and more successful in reaching the shady parts of the mountain. This solar irradiation can also result in slopes that recently were stable become unstable due to the change in temperature.
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It was still snowing on the south side of the Alps yesterday, but today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) it will snow mainly in the west, the northwest and the main alpine ridge in Austria. The temperature temporarily drops, the snow line drops as well and you can expect 10-30 cm of fresh snow above 2000 meters. The sun comes out on Thursday and you can certainly find a line like the one below, shot by Elias Lundh in Engelberg last weekend.
The course of the weather will look something like this the next couple of days:
The Alps will have to deal with the storm above from this weekend. A lot of moisture is pressed against the southern Alps with a southwestern current,. This causes snow (and rain) in the southern Alps and Föhn on the northern side of the main alpine ridge. According to the latest calculations, Saturday will be a bit cooler than Sunday. The snow line will be around 1600-1800 meters, but can drop down to 1300 meters in case of intense precipitation. Dry snow only falls above 1900-2100 meters. Large amounts of rain will come down below 1200-1600 meters.
It will be a difficult weekend to ride powder with good visibility this weekend. It will be difficult due to the Föhn on the north side of the main alpine ridge. The challenge on the south side of the Alps will be to find powder in the trees. I think it will be possible to find acceptable treeruns on Saturday and Sunday. Because the sweet spot of the precipitation is not yet known, I do not want to anticipate this right now.
For those who really want to go next weekend, there are some opportunities. It certainly will not be as epic as last week, but I'm going to do my best to help you make the most out of it in the coming days.
Stay stoked. Morris