A part of the Monte Rosa ski area opened its lifts this weekend and that is earlier than planned. There is already a solid base in parts of the southern Alps after the snowfall in early November. At the same time, the artificial snow making machines are running at full speed in the northern and western alps to paint some white ribbons of artificial snow through the landscape. The differences in the Alps are huge at the moment.
These differences will become even greater this week. The southern Alps get even more fresh snow, the rest of the Alps will have to deal with a Föhn storm and sunshine. As expected a high pressure area settles above Scandinavia. This blocks the supply of storms from the west and north. Cold air is coming in from the east and humid air from the Mediterranean is coming in from the south.
The map above nicely shows the air pressure distribution for the beginning of this week. High pressure in the north makes room for storm depressions in the Mediterranean. Cold air will come in from the east (blue arrow), warm and humid air from the Mediterranean (red arrow). Two types of air that come together south of the Alps and will bring snow to the south side of the main alpine ridge.
Clouds are pushed into the Po-plain and from there towards the Alps by a current from the south to the east. Once it hits the Alps, the air is forced to rise, cool down and will lots of snow will come down. At the same time, it is just dry and sunny in the north and west of the Alps.
The main alpine ridge is a succession of the highest peaks in the Alps. This starts at the border between Italy and France. The Alps rise up from Ventimiglia and the main alpine ridge continues via the Monte Viso, and Gran Paradiso towards the Mont Blanc. It bends to the east and passes the Matterhorn, the Gotthard, Piz Bernina, Wildspitze and Grossglockner after which it flattens slowly but surely.
The current will come from the south to east with snow for the south side of the Alps as a result in the coming week. At the same time it is dry and often sunny in the west and north of the Alps. The map below shows that perfectly. I plotted the main alpine ridge on our 6-day snow forecast map. You can see how it snows in the south, while it is almost dry in the north. If you want to look at everything in detail, click on our forecast maps.
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With all the snow in the forecast for the southern Alps, the fact that there is already a solid base above 2000-2400 meters and that there are already some resorts open or about to open, is a good reason to call this a Pre PowderAlert for the southern Alps. There is a good chance that you can ride a some great powder upcoming weekend. Wax up if the stoke is taking over! More details later this week!
Stay stoked, Morris