PowderAlert #1: Southern Alps

By meteomorris on 21 November 2018 · 0

PowderAlert # 1 is in effect this coming weekend. There's already a very nice base in parts of the Swiss and Italian main alpine ridge and there's more snow in the forecast for Friday and Saturday. A number of areas are already open, other resorts are working hard to have everything ready for Saturday. It is the first PowderAlert of winter 18-19. It is still early season, take it easy, the season is still long. In this forecast:

  • Northern- vs southern Alps: between despair and home
  • New storm depression coming in
  • Chances of sun this weekend
  • First tips for this weekend
  • After the weekend: jetstream goes for the Alps

Northern- vs southern Alps: between despair and home

It is the start of winter and the differences are enormous. Below some current images from the Southern Alps. It is already very good above 2000-2300 meters. The base is already 1 to 2 meters thick in some places and the snow cover has been able to settle itself.

Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa

Corvatsch, St. Moritz
Corvatsch, St. Moritz

San Domenico
San Domenico


Presena, Passo Tonale
Presena, Passo Tonale

At the same time, winter seems far away on the north and west side of the Alps. Artifical snow making machines are working overtime and it is still like autumn on southern slopes. The little bit of snow that came down yesterday can be seen on the shadow slopes. There are still some storms needed before you can start thinking about riding off-piste.

La Plagne
La Plagne

La Clusaz
La Clusaz



New storm depression coming in

It snowed again on the south side of the Alps the last 72 hours. Locally there was 20-40 cm of fresh snow coming down on a base that is already very thick. The graph below comes from the measuring station at the foot of Monte Rosa in Macugnaga. There's a solid base over there at 2000 meters.

A weak front passes through the Alps bringing some snow today, but it is sunny again on Thursday and also Friday starts sunny in the east of the Alps. Silence before the storm, because a new storm depression will hit the Alps on Friday. A part of a depression on the Atlantic Ocean will pick up some moisture (and therefore extra power) over the Mediterranean. This depression enters the French Southern Alps from the southwest on Friday and will bring some snow there.

The precipitation spreads towards the pre-Alps of the French Alps and towards the southern Alps later. Because the current is still south to southwest, it stays dry in the heart of the French Alps. When later that day cold air will come in from the west, the current goes turns the west, and the French Alps will get their share. At the same time, the center of gravity in the southern Alps shifts via the French Alpes du Sud and the Aosta/Piedmont towards Lombardia and the Dolomites.

Above you'll find the forecast until Saturday. If you want to see more details, click on our forecast maps.

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Chances of sun this weekend

It will still snow lightly on Saturday morning, and especially in the east it will be cloudy for a long time, but the sun will come out from the west. The chances of sun are highest on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. I'm even optimistic about Sunday afternoon right now.

I expect the most snow to come down from Friday to Saturday in the French Alpes du Sud. Especially on the south of the Ecrins it can snow a lot. I also expect a lot of snow on the border between Wallis on the one hand and the eastern Aosta and northern Piedmont on the other hand, just like the Gotthard region and the border area of Lombardia and the Engadin.

First tips for this weekend

I expect the best conditions in the resorts below this weekend:

  • San Domenico: Scheduled to open on the 24th/25th of November. 280 cm base at the top.
  • Monte Rosa: Scheduled to open on the 24th/25th of November. The lifts in Alagna and Gressoney/Staffal are already open and even the Punta Indren is open (that means you can reach the famous Acquilla couloir. Day passes only EUR 28,00.
  • Andermatt: Andermatt is one of the best places in Switzerland right now. It gets snow almost from all directions and the conditions are already good. We'll have to look see whether the Gemsstock picks up snow from the south again in the coming days. The Vorgipfel couloir has already been skied.
  • Corvatsch: The Corvatsch opens this weekend. Conditions are good, especially from the mid station. Let's see how good super mario land already is.

It will also be good in:

  • Breuil Cervinia and Zermatt: Open all week. Great conditions with a lot of snow on the highest peaks.
  • Passo Tonale - Presena: the lifts to the Presena glacier are on. Let's hope the amazing run through the tunnel is already possible. Let me know!
  • Sulda: the lifts are on, the season has started and it's pretty crowded.
  • Saas Fee: The glacier of Saas Fee is already open. Please note that the Alpin express is closed until November 23rd, but it should open again this weekend.

The conditions in Tignes are good (especially on the glacier and when you look towards Val d'Isère you will see how much snow there already is towards the Italian border) and there is a chance that Livigno opens some lifts.

More details tomorrow!

After the weekend: jetstream goes for the Alps

The jet stream was far away from the Alps the last couple of days, but the jetstream will already touch the Alps for the first time on Friday. There are chances for more snow after the weekend. The jet stream will stick around the Alps and that will definitely result in snowfall again.

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Stay stoked, Morris


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