Snow for the western Alps, rising snow line

By meteomorris on 29 November 2018 · 0

The glorious first PowderAlert from last weekend gets a lame sequel. Two fronts pass the Alps this weekend. The first results in light snowfall in the western and later in northern Alps with low temperatures. The front that passes on Sunday pushes the snow line towards the 2000 meters or higher. Saturday can be a nice day, Sunday will be a lot harder. The best conditions can still be found on the south side of the Alps. In addition, the French southern Alps get more snow, which makes it pretty good on Saturday. The base is still too thin in the northern Alps.

Still not much snow in the north

There was some snow coming down on the north side of the Alps and the communication channels of the ski areas were roaring. Flakenews? It certainly wasn't fake news, but heavy snowfall? No, actually there were only significant amounts of snow coming down in the east of Austria. It just wasn't much in the rest of the northern Alps, especially since the Föhn storm influenced the snow cover.

Still very thin in the north
Still very thin in the north

Not much snow in Les 3 Valllées
Not much snow in Les 3 Valllées

Without glaciers and artificial snow, winter sports would not be possible here. Anyway, on the other hand, it is only the end of November. A good storm cycle can suddenly change everything for the better. And if the flakes come a little later, then we'll just go riding later.

Good start for the southern Alps

There isn't much snow in the northern Alps, but it's white in the southern Alps. The conditions in the French Southern Alps are good above 2000 meters after the snowfall of last weekend and on the Italian side of the border it is just pretty good as well above 2000 meters. The conditions in the 'Alpes du Sud' will improve from Friday to Saturday, so that it will be a little better on Saturday.

Clearly more snow in the southern French Alps
Clearly more snow in the southern French Alps


Excellent conditions in the south, although the wind causes some wind slabs locally.

New storm in the forecast

A new storm is on its way to the Alps. A small low-pressure area has acquired (as a forwarded post of a very powerful depression at the Atlantic) a position in the Mediterranean. This will first result in the first snowfall in the French southern Alps on Friday, followed by cold air from the northwest in the night to Friday. Again some snow in short.

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Temperatures rising on Saturday, but the sun will shine

We are in between two fronts on Saturday. It gets better, it is going to be very sunny and the freshly fallen snow will add that extra spark, making it really nice to ride (certainly in the French southern Alps). The conditions are also good in the Italian Piedmont, Aosta and Lombardia, just as in the border regions between Switzerland and Italy.

Where to go?

The resorts that opened last weekend are now pretty much tracked near the slopes, but if you want to go on a tour there's a lot to discover. Both from the top lifts of the high-altitude resorts, but also from the higher mountain passes such as the Julier and Simplon in Switzerland, the Bernard between Switzerland and Italy and from the Col du Montgenèvre and the Lauteret, Saturday can be a good day to go on a tour.

But there's more. Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier open their lifts for the first time this season this weekend. Yes, true story. Montgenèvre and Serre Che (Villeneuve and Chentemerle) will open. If you want to know all the details (forecast, freeride routes, slope angles etc) click on Serre Chevalier and Montgenèvre.

Rising temperatures on Sunday, with rain and snowfall in the northwest

The temperatures will rise from Saturday. The jet stream is just north of the Alps. This makes the supplied air milder. The front that passes through the Alps is filled with moist air and the temperature is too high. The snow line is therefore around 2000 meters and dry snow is only expected above 2300 meters. The more humid air in combination with the mild temperatures will make the snow conditions deteriorate in the French southern Alps and on the south side of the Alps as well. In short, enjoy Saturday and accept that Sunday won't be that good.

Long term: jet stream on fire?

The forecasts are more and more hinting on an intense storm cycle that is likely to start in the middle of next week. That does not immediately mean that it will be winter, but that large parts of the high alpine can expect a lot of snow. If the temperature then also drops then we can prepare for PowderAlert #2. Still many 'but's', but there is something of a perspective.

It's coming!
It's coming!

And why isn't there a PowderAlert for Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier? This is because there's less than 30 cm of fresh snow going to fall. But the conditions are going to be good. There is a good base. Enjoy it!

Stay stoked, Morris


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