It has been snowing almost continuously in large parts of Austria since December 29th. Substantial amounts of fresh snow also came down in Switzerland and the French northern Alps last weekend. The sun comes out everywhere today and will also be there on Wednesday. A lot of fresh snow and two sunny days, it is the recipe for many avalanche accidents. Fortunately, the holidays are over and we have the weekend behind us. In this forecast:
New storm coming in on Thursday
There was a lot of snow in large parts of the northern Alps last weekend. An average of 30-100 cm of fresh snow came down with local peaks towards the 150 cm between Saturday evening and Monday evening. It snowed heavily especially in the east of Switzerland, Vorarlberg and the west of Tyrol, but in the French northern Alps a lot of snow came down as well.
The snow line temporarily rose considerably during the snowfall. It was first around 600 meters, around 1300 meters and even higher in the northern French Alps later in the northwest. In addition, wet snow came down up to 1500 or even 2000 meters. The snow line dropped rapidly towards the 700 meters or lower after the passage of the cold front. Because there was still a lot of warm air in the valleys (and because of that a lot of moisture), a lot of fresh, but also lighter snow came down on Monday.
It will be sunny today and Wednesday after the snowfall of the past few days. A powerful high pressure area keeps precipitation at a distance, so we are dealing with bluebird and fresh snow in the northwest and north of the Alps.
It is relatively cool today (Tuesday), but we are dealing with an inversion situation on Wednesday. Cold air is then in the valleys, but the upper air is clearly warmer. As a result, it still freezes in the valleys in many places while the temperature at 2000 meters goes up to the positive digits.
Everyone was alert on Monday when there was an EXTREME avalanche danger in large parts of Austria and Switzerland. Fortunately, many areas were (largely) closed. The avalanche danger in these regions has 'dropped' to HIGH today. Everyone was alert in the French northern Alps as well, because of HIGH avalanche danger. The avalanche danger in most of these regions has dropped to CONSIDERABLE today.
The fact that the avalanche danger is a bit lower causes many people to reduce alertness and sharpness. That is NOT the way it should be. I even think that the next 48 hours will be even more dangerous for us freeriders than the last few hours. In the event of an EXTREME avalanche danger, large parts of ski areas, but even roads and villages are closed. This is not the case when the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE or HIGH. Slopes and lifts open again and social life is not disturbed by closed roads and villages.
Avalanche danger CONSIDERABLE (3 on a scale of 5) is estimated by many as 'average' and gives a false sense of security. But anyone who dives deeper into the avalanche danger scale (click-click) immediately sees what it really means. There is a significant avalanche danger when the rating is CONSIDERABLE. The snow cover is then moderately to weak on many slopes that are steeper than 30 degrees. Spontaneous avalanches of medium size are possible. The weight on the snow cover by a single skier or snowboarder may be sufficient to cause an avalanche. That sounds a lot heavier than 3 on a scale of 5, doesn't it?
Over the next 48 hours, the avalanche danger is critical because:
Always check your local avalanche forecast (here or on the destination pages on wePowder) and adapt your plans to them. Common sense and the right knowledge are the key to beautiful powder days. Avoid areas with mainly terrain above the tree line. Stay away around and above the tree line, it's still much too tricky! Ride powder lower on the mountain between the trees and avoid large open and steep sections. Even steep sections above a forest are dangerous because avalanches can reach far into the woods.
Don't forget to have fun, but keep thinking! Do not let powder panic take over, read avalanche forecasts, talk to experts and ride conservatively. When you have no idea what all of the above is about, please stay on the slopes now and invest in your knowledge. Mountain Academy is the ideal start of your search for the right knowledge. You can start right away here.
There is an enormous amount of snow in the north and northwest of the Alps. Basically dream conditions everywhere on the slopes. Outside the slopes, on the other hand, it is important to pay attention. For all the above reasons I would choose areas with many trees and substantial terrain between 1000 and 1900 meters. Ride infinite treeruns in deep powder, the conditions are right now. If you want to go above the tree line, avoid slopes that are steeper than 30 degrees. Also stay away on slopes below 30 degrees if there are steep slopes above you.
Alright, did you read all of the above and do you have the knowledge and the gear? You can ride powder in:
There's a new storm coming in on Thursday after the rise in temperature on Wednesday. Cold air comes into the northwest of the Alps from the northwest. This first of all results in snow in the French northern Alps and the west and northwest of Switzerland. Once the front crosses the Alps, Austria and northeastern Italy will find itself in a snow sandwich with finally snow for the northeast of Italy and the south of Austria. Below the snow forecast for the next 5 days. Details can still shift, but there will be snow on the menu again from Thursday.
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Stay stoked, Morris