We are on the eve of a rollercoaster whose outcome certainly will not result in a white Christmas everywhere. Warm and cold fronts alternate at a dizzying pace in the next 120 hours. The zero degree level rises in the direction of the 2400 meters one moment, to drop again to 1500 or even 900 meters 24 hours later. The jetstream winds its way into Europe, with warm air regularly raising the mercury. The northern Alps are most likely to get some cold air during the Christmas period, the low mountain ranges of the western Alps (French Alps, west of Switzerland and northwestern Italy) remain mainly under the spell of mild air. If you want to experience a white Christmas, it is best to opt for villages at high altitudes. Especially for the western Alps: choose villages around 1800/1900 meters. Because the northern Alps benefit more from the cold fronts, there is still some snow coming down on the lower parts of the mountain on our way to Christmas.
A white village is fun, but fresh or at least dry powder snow is even more fun. Who wants to ride powder with Christmas has to pick a ski area at higher altitude. And it is already very good for the time of the year in those places. The snow cover above 2000 meters is equal to or higher than the long-term average in many areas in the Alps. Below the rollercoaster to Christmas:
A very active warm front moves into the Alps from the west with precipitation for the northwest of the Alps. The wind is powerful (from the southwest). The snow line rises rapidly towards 1900 meters or higher. The snow line first fluctuates around 900-1200 meters to rise later in the inneralpine areas. The Alps are dealing with mild air and it is warm everywhere in the night to Saturday, with rain to high altitude in the northwest of the Alps.
Cold air is gently touching the north of the Alps during the course of the Saturday. The precipitation moves to the north of the Alps and the snow line then drops towards the 1600 meters. Cold dry snow, incidentally, only falls above 1900-2200 meters. On the southern side of the Alps (including the French Southern Alps), the sun will shine, but with a northern Föhn.
Mild air flows into the northern Alps again in the course of Sunday. The cold air that shook the northern Alps on Saturday afternoon is being pushed away by a southwestern current. The humid air that shakes the northern Alps on Sunday causes rain in the valleys and snow above 1800-2100 meters.
Something very interesting is about to happen on the 24th of December. Cold air reaches the northern Alps. Cold air descends over the eastern flank of a high-pressure area towards the Alps. The air pressure is high, the air is relatively dry and normally it produces little snow, but ........
The mild and humid air of Sunday afternoon is still just north of the Alps and is trapped between the cold air that descends from the north to the Alps on the one hand and the Alps on the other. That cold air presses that damp air against the Alps and the result is snowfall deeper in the valleys in the night to Christmas. This results in a lot of snow in the current calculations, with which Christmas morning has a white start in many ski villages on the northern side of the Alps.
But we are not there yet. There are still some variables that can change up to and including Christmas. That northern Stau might change as well.
I'll ride some powder in the Arlberg today, with eight of my Powfinder friends. Check out the pictures below. And check out the video that Patrick made in Leukerbad last weekend. We can't complain! Great snow, blue skies and a great start of the season!
If the northern Stau will kick in, Christmas Day good be as good as the pictures and video above!
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Stay stoked, Morris