PA #2: locally up to a meter of fresh snow. Today is a powder day!

By meteomorris on 11 December 2018 · 0

Today is a powder day, yesterday was a powder day, tomorrow will be a powder day. King Winter arrived in the northwest and north of the Alps last weekend. The once green alpine meadows got a lot of snow and the quest for powder is ON. Get your powder snorkel and your wePowder facemask out. The powder is loose, the powder is fluffy, it is cold and it really feels like winter. PowderAlert # 2 is ON and the snow stays cool and fresh until the end of this week. In this forecast:

  • A lot of snow in the north(west), sun in the south
  • Faceshots galore and the most beautiful winter images
  • Tuesday and Wednesday are powder days: where to go?
  • HIGH avalanche danger!
  • Cold with some sun the rest of the week
  • New storm cycle by the end of the week

A lot of snow in the north(west), sun in the south

The perfect storm (like the one on November 5th 2017) is hammering the Alps right now. Snow on one side of the main alpine ridge (Stau) normally leads to sunshine and wind on the other side of the main alpine ridge (Föhn). We had to deal with a current from the northwest that turned into a current from the north, a so-called northern Stau. Check out this article if you want to know more about the northern Stau.

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The past few days were no different. A strong north (western) current pressed cold and humid air was against the northwest of the Alps. The clouds hit the natural barrier on the north side of the Alps. The clouds got stuck, forced to rise, cooled and here you go: snow and rain. You can see this (air pressure lines narrow, aimed at northern Alps (black arrows), lots of clouds (white stuff on the north side of the Alps) and sunny in the Po-plain on the map below.

When you zoom in even further on the satellite picture of the Alps of yesterday , it becomes clear how sharp the separation is between north and south. It was 8 degrees with an air humidity of over 90% in the French city of Grenoble yesterday and in Zürich it was only 4.4 degrees with an air humidity also around 90%. But those who stayed on the south side of the Alps were enjoying the sun. It was around 15 degrees in Torino, it was sunny and very dry (humidity less than 30%), it was 13 degrees and it was also sunny in Milano.

Sharp separation between north and south
Sharp separation between north and south

The perfect storm is an oddity in the Alps. It's a powder day in the northwest, but on the south side the strong wind in the mountains resulted in the transportation of a lot of snow. But anyone who gets to know the weather can always ride powder. Simply by being on the right side of the mountain. Powder is a choice, remember? ;)

Faceshots galore and the most beautiful winter images

While the storm is moving to the east, the sun will start to shine in the northwest of the Alps. The same came out yesterday afternoon and that resulted in the first facshots in Val d'Isère and the Arlberg region.

The sun will be even more dominant in the west today. The sun was already out there in La Plagne, Tignes-Val d'Isère and Verbier this morning.

La Plagne
La Plagne

Tignes-Val d'Isère
Tignes-Val d'Isère


In the meantime, it is still snowing in the east of Switzerland and the north of Austria. The sun will come out more and more in Switzerland in the course of the morning. Some sunshine is expected in the Vorarlberg and the west of Tyrol in the afternoon, it will still be snowing in the rest of the northern part of Austria.



Tuesday and Wednesday are powder days: where to go?

Sun in the west and snow in the east. The snow line is deep in the valleys and especially in the northern Stau resorts of Austria there is still snow coming down. The snow quantities decrease rapidly deep in the Alps and especially in and to the south of the main alpine ridge. You can ride great powder in the areas in the west today below:

The riding will also be good when the sun comes out later today in the resorts below:

  • Engelberg good above 2300 meters
  • Andermatt good above 2200 meters
  • Davos-Klosters good above 2000 meters
  • Arlberg northern part of the Arlberg is good above 2100 meters, the southern part has a thinner base.

In addition, the glacier areas of Austria where you can already find a base. The conditions will also be good in the east of Austria from Wednesday/Thursday.

HIGH avalanche danger!

A lot of snow, a fluctuating snow line and lots of wind. The avalanche danger has risen considerably. Touring will certainly be difficult in the next 48 hours and outside the slopes you need the right knowledge. Always check your local avalanche forecast and adapt your plans to it. (Tip: you will find a link to the local avalanche forecast from each village on wepowder, but you can also visit this page).

Cold with some sun the rest of the week

The cold weather lasts until the end of this week, and there is more and more room for the sun. The storm is heading east and high pressure keeps storms from the west at a distance. In the west and south (higher) clouds can become a thing from time to time, but it is just cold and sunny in the east. Storm depressions seem to get a grip on the Alps again only later in the week.

Storm depressions are ready
Storm depressions are ready

New storm cycle by the end of the week

There will be a new storm cycle on the maps at the end of this week. The leading trend in the models is that in doing so, 1. that the currents become slightly more SW and 2. that the jet stream regularly will be situated north of the Alps. This makes it warmer so that snow is mainly forecasted for the high alpine and you can expect rain and thaw in the valleys and on the lower parts of the mountain. A southern Föhn will also be able to kick in from time to time.

Anyway, next weekend and next week are still far away. I hope that the jet stream will move to the south a little, because it would be a pity if the snow on the lower parts of the mountain will be hit by warm air.

Let's first enjoy PowderAlert #2!

Stay stoked, Morris


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